Questions to ask yourself when planning an interactive lesson:
Am I being physically, vocally, and emotionally expressive?
In short, are you engaging? Think about the difference between a news program and a children's show. A kid's show is full of emotion, movement, and sound. This is not a recommendation to turn yourself into a clown, or even to be more expressive than you are comfortable with. Find the kind of expressiveness that works for you, like using more gestures, giving characters fun voices, or modeling the emotions of the characters in your story.
- For an example of physical variation: watch how Courtney uses gestures in "Magic Box."
- For an example of vocal variation: watch how Laura makes her voice loud, soft, high, and low while she teaches a new word.
- For an example of emotional variation: watch how Ruthie acts out Froggy's emotions in "Mystery In A Bag."
Am I using interactive language?
Interactive language is another tool that you can throw into any lesson without any planning! These tools are phrases like "Let's all say/do that," "Show me what that looks like," and "What does that smell/look/sound/taste/feel like?" Interactive language gives students opportunities for low pressure engagement. These strategies can be applied to every aspect of your lesson. Ask yourself: am I using interactive language while I give instructions, recall prior knowledge, teach content, refocus, and transition my class?
- For an example of how "Let's all say that" can support retention of a story: check out how Karim tells a story.
- For an example of how "Let's all say that" can help transitions: watch Antonia transition students to the rug.
- For an example of sensory based questions and "show me": check out Helen tell a story with sound and gesture.
Am I using drama-based activities and songs?
Drama-based activities and songs are modifiable frameworks to bring kinesthetic learning into any lesson. Instead of asking students to tell you what they think a character feels, why not have them act it out? When starting your day, why not begin with a ritual, like a song, to focus the students and get them ready for learning? With a little creativity, all of these activities and songs can be adjusted for any lesson. Check out our guidelines for teaching drama activities and songs.
Can I teach my lesson by including it in an engaging story?
A truly interactive lesson has an emotional and narrative arc that gives students a reason to be interested in the material. Think of your lesson like a good story: fiction or nonfiction. What's the problem we need to solve? Who are the characters? Why is this exciting?
- For example: a lesson about formal letter writing could be taught by a story about helping a frog RSVP to a party he doesn't want to attend.
- For example: a lesson about making inferences could be taught by a story about finding a lost backpack and trying to identify its owner.
- A lesson about neat handwriting could be taught by the true story of the people who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence.
TIPS TO REMEMBER
The drama doesn't stop in the transitions! Transitions are an opportunity for students to loose focus. Keep that focus by making your transitions interactive!
"Exciting" doesn't mean "unfocused" or "unsafe." Modify these strategies based on the behavior needs of your classroom. Check out our database of refocusing tools.
Start and end your day with a ritual. Good morning and goodbye songs are excellent ways to transition students into and out of an academic mindset. Check out our database of songs to begin and end your day.
HAVE FUN! Model to your students that you enjoy learning!