Jan 9, 2019

Active Learning vs. Passive Learning...No Contest

Put active learning beside passive learning and it's an easy win for active learning.

Passive learning is when kids sit still and are quiet as the teacher or small group leader lectures them.

Active learning is when kids get involved in their learning process and learn by doing, talking and teaching others.

Kids are wired to move.  Especially today's kids who surf and skim hundreds of messages that come at them each day.

Look at this chart.  If you want to put your lesson into kids' long term memory, you'll have to use active learning.  Look at the effectiveness of active learning over passive learning. 90% versus 10%.  NO CONTEST.  And yet many children's ministry teachers and small group leaders continue to use the least effective method when leading a class or small group.

If you want to really make a significant impact in the life of today's kids, then focus on using discussions, practice by doing and having kids teach their peers.  When you do that, kids will remember 90% of what you lead them in learning.

Teachers and small group leaders who want to be successful must shift from being a lecturer to being a facilitator.  By facilitator, I mean they guide children through active learning experiences.  They see success as how effectively they got kids involved in sharing the lesson.

An effective way to do this is to teach by "you talking" for 3-5 minutes and then doing an activity, game, discussion, etc.  Don't teach by lecturing for more than 5 minutes at a time.

Here's an example of an effective large group elementary service flow that uses active learning:

  • Welcome and icebreaker (5 minutes)
  • Worship songs (6 minutes)
  • Game that ties into main point of lesson (5 minutes)
  • Worship song and offering (3-4 minutes)
  • Memory verse game or activity (5 minutes)
  • Video skit (3 minutes)
  • Lesson - teacher talking (4 minutes)
  • Lesson - activity and discussion (5 minutes)
  • Lesson - teacher talking (4-5 minutes)
  • Lesson - hands on project and discussion (5 minutes)
  • Lesson - teacher talking (4-5 minutes)
  • Kids teach each other the key point by interactive discussion. (5 minutes)
  • Interactive prayer time - (3 minutes)
  • Announcements (1 minutes)
  • Review game (until parents come)
As you can see, there is heavy emphasis on active learning in this plan.  It also honors kids' attention span, which is 5 minutes tops. 

Now what happens when the teacher does all the talking during the lesson?  Kids are bored.  Kids zone out.  Kids are quiet.  Kids are begin to squirm.  Kids are restless. 

Take a look at your curriculum.  Does it include enough active learning?  If not, it may be time for a switch to curriculum that focuses more on active learning.

The kids in your class will love it and will engage with you.  Active learning rules.  There's no contest when you compare the two.

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