Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday Throw Down- Making Learning More Interactive

I am excited to join in on I'm Lovin' Lit's linky party this week.  In a way this could also be a "Throw Back Thursday" post.  I have really enjoyed reading all of the ideas in this linky party, and I have added a lot to my list of new ideas to try this year.
I have a few things that I do to make learning interactive for my students.  One of my go to places for strategies and lessons is the AVID handbook.   I no longer teach in an "AVID" school, but I went to the workshop before I left that school and I continue to use all of the fun resources.  AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and you can find out more about it here.  One of these ideas was showcased in my very first blog post.  Here is an excerpt from that post, originally posted on November 21, 2012. 

My most recent project with my seventh graders was the Theme One Pager.  This AVID technique is a very succinct way to sum up a novel.  The students need to pick a scene from the novel that represents one of the themes of the book.  The picture should take up the majority of the page, with as little white space as possible.  On top of the picture students need to put two quotes that support their theme, a paragraph explaining the theme and the connection to the quotes, and a personal reflection.   We had finished reading The Giver, by Lois Lowry, so some of my students chose a black and white color scheme to represent the colorless world that Jonas lives in.  The students were encouraged to do a rough draft first and then put it onto a plain sheet of printer paper (white or colored).  This took us about three days in class, and then students needed to finish it at home if they didn't finish it in class.  

Here are some other ways that I make learning interactive in my classroom:
1.  Groupwork
I love to let my students work in groups.  Often they can figure things out from one another if we give them the opportunity to do so.  I allow groups or partners for a wide variety of activities such as analyzing poetry, reading/comprehending a passage, sharing things they've written, sometimes even writing.
2.  Music (and YouTube videos are awesome for a visual to go along with the music)
I think music can be a very powerful tool in the world of middle schoolers.  You know they are thinking about their favorite band anyway, why not try to use that to teach a literary technique.  Last year I taught point of view using the One Direction song "What Makes you Beautiful."  Some of the boys freaked out, but the girls LOVED it!  This song specifically illustrated second person point of view. It was a lot of fun and provided a brain break!

3.  Technology
This can take so many forms: videos, power points, prezis, interactive white board activities (although mine always seemed to be on the fritz).  No matter what technology you have, use it!
4. Engaging Topics of Study
One of my students favorite units last year was The Giver.  It wasn't so much about the book, but what I did to extend it.  We went into discussion about Dystopian Societies, and I found other resources to supplement our studies.  For example, we read "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  Then we even watched the video for a little treat and to get a clear visual display of the story.  You should preview the video before showing to make sure it is appropriate for your kiddos.  Mine loved it.  I also love to push the students to compare different pieces of literature with similar themes.  It gets their critical juices flowing!


  1. Where did you go to the AVID conference? I went to the one in Dallas this year and absolutely LOVED it!

    1. I went to the conference in Georgia in 2009, and I still keep the books within reach of my desk.

  2. I haven't heard of AVID but will totally be looking into it more! I do love all of the interactive techniques that you listed. And the theme project is absolutely FABULOUS. What a great way sneak text evidence in there!
    :) Erin

  3. I've taught Harrison Burgeron for YEARS and never knew there was a video. My world is more complete!!

  4. Hey there! I'm your newest MD follower! My friend just started teaching AVID this year. I'll have to share your blog with her as she'll have MANY connections with your idea!


    1. Thanks, Adelle. I am now you're newest follower! Where in MD do you teach?

    2. I teach in Carroll County. My AVID teaching friend lives in FL. Where in MD do you teach?

    3. I used to teach in Baltimore County, but now I teach in a private school in Olney, MD. Thanks for connecting!


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