Three Innovative Methods of Teaching for High School Educators

Tips for Educators Updated January 6, 2016

Innovative methods of teaching are a goal of many educators. Teaching students in ways that keep them engaged and interested in the material can sometimes be a challenge. In the short-attention span world we live in, it can be harder than ever to keep high school students excited and engrossed in learning.

Visualization, technology tools and active learning

Finding new and innovative methods of teaching is a crucial skill for high school teachers. Brain research has shown that certain methods and approaches can truly enhance the learning process. Applying innovative learning and attention-management techniques to classes is a win-win for both students and teachers.

1. Visualization

A list of disconnected facts will not lead to a deep understanding in students or an integration of knowledge from one situation to another. Knowledge that is organized and connected to concepts with a goal of mastery, including the ability to visualize the concepts, can lead to the ability to transfer knowledge and lead to a deeper, longer-term understanding of what is taught.

Visualization is an especially good teaching strategy for reading and literacy teachers. Here’s a lesson in how to use visualization to help students illustrate mental images from a portion of text that is read aloud:

Teaching students visualization skills help them understand, recall and think critically about subjects they study.

2. Wisely managed classroom technology

Computers, tablets, digital cameras, videoconferencing technology and GPS devices can enhance a student’s learning experience. Possible uses of classroom technology include using video games to teach math and foreign languages, leveraging Skype to communicate with classrooms or guest speakers from around the world, or multimedia projects that allow students to explore subject matter using film, audio and even software they create.

However, tech devices in the high school classroom require teachers to add a component to their classroom management. Giving students laptops or tablets means teaching them to use devices respectfully and preventing damage to the equipment. Tech-savvy teachers gave Education Week the following advice on using classroom technology:

  • Explain that the use of tech tools in class is a privilege not everyone has — and if abused, it can be discontinued.
  • During class, teachers should move around the classroom or use monitoring software to ensure students are using their devices appropriately. When they understand that their teacher will intervene if they go off-task, students know they must focus on their assignment.
  • Put students in charge of the upkeep of devices. Classes can learn tech terms, basic maintenance tasks, and appoint a few students to serve as tech monitors responsible for distributing and storing equipment. Doing this creates a sense of value and ownership for the welfare of classroom technology.

3. Active learning: Peer instruction, discussion groups and collaborative problem solving

All high school educators dread a roomful of blank faces or silence after they open up a topic for class discussion. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources (CER), devoting time to active learning projects is one way to get students thinking, talking and sharing information in the classroom. The CER publishes a series called the The Innovative Instructor that explores these methods.

The publication “Bring on the Collaboration!” describes a class structure where the instructor leads a short overview of the day’s topic and gives students a challenge to meet by the end of the class, such as answering a question or solving a problem. Students break into small groups to do research online, chart out ideas and discuss ways to meet the challenge. Groups upload their work to a Blackboard site, where the teacher can review it. At the end of class, each group shares what they’ve learned with their peers.

Innovative methods of teaching can help high school students get the most out of their education. These are just three ideas for directions you can go in your quest for innovative learning for your students.

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