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Student Engagement through Active Learning and Interactive Teaching

Father teaching his son geography in an 1830 woodcut
Father teaching his son geography in an 1830 woodcut


Topics on the Page

Active Learning
  • Student Engagement
  • Lectures, Attention Span and Student Learning
  • Lesson Planning
Using Literature in the Classroom
  • Picture Books
  • YA and Adult Literature
  • Graphic Books

Primary Sources

Group Work and Cooperative Learning

Analytical Writing and Poetry Writing

Role Plays and Simulations

external image Quiz.pngYou Probably Believe Some Learning Myths: Take Our Quiz and Find Out (NPR, March 22, 2017)


Active Learning


"Active learning is the combination of teaching, environment and technology that supports student-centered learning by encouraging students to actively participate in the learning process" (from the K-20 Active Learning Landscape, Center for Digital Education, 2016)


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Active Learning from the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network

Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, April 2014

  • These results indicate that average examination scores improved by about 6% in active learning sections, and that students in classes with traditional lecturing were 1.5 times more likely to fail than were students in classes with active learning

Improving Students' Learning with Effective Learning Techniques, Psychological Science in the Public Interest (2013)


Teaching Tactics that Encourage Active Learning from the Critical Thinking Community blog

Teaching Methods: The What, Why and How of Student Centered Learning, Science Resource Center, Carleton College

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. Michele DiPietro, Kennesaw State University

What To Look For in a Classroom, Alfie Kohn (September 1996)

Student Engagement


Schoolchildren Reading, Chicago, 1910
Schoolchildren Reading, Chicago, 1910

"Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education" (Glossary of Education Reform, 2016)

Grabbing Students: Boost Student Success by Increasing Their Engagement in Learning, American Psychological Association, June 2015

How Do We Know When Students Are Engaged? Edutopia

Why Are They Disengaged? My Students Told Me Why from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Lectures, Attention Span and Student Learning


Are College Lectures Unfair? Annie Murphy Paul, The New York Times, September 12, 2015

Why Do So Many High School History Teachers Lecture So Much? from Grant Wiggins

Who Needs Lectures? Vermont Medical School Chooses Other Ways to Teach, The Boston Globe (February 1, 2017)

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The Science of Attention: How To Capture and Hold the Attention of Easily Distracted Students



David McCullough's 5 Lessons Every High School Student Should Learn on YouTube

NAEP U.S. History, Geography and Civics 2014 scores




Lesson Planning


5 Learning Design Principles on Lesson Structure That Help People Learn

Strategies for Effective Lesson Planning from University of Michigan

Lesson Plans and Unit Plans: The Basis for Instruction, The New Teacher's Companion, Gail Cunnigham (ASCD, 2009)

The New Teacher's Guide to Creating Lesson Plans. Scholastic

Writing Lesson Plans

What is Understanding by Design (UbD)


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Picture Books, Young Adult and Adult Literature and Graphic Books


How to Choose the Best Multicultural Books: 50 Selections

Walk of Ideas Sculpture, Berlin
Walk of Ideas Sculpture, Berlin

rotating gif.gifGo to our sister wiki Teaching Resources for English



Books That Shaped America from the Library of Congress

Notable Social Studies Tradebooks 2014

Study: Let Kids Pick Their Own Books (May 20, 2015)

Bringing Great Historical Literature into the Classroom: An Annotated Bibliography from the JFK Library

Lesson Plans for American History and Literature from the National Humanities Center


Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 12.13.15 PM.pngComic Books and Graphic Novels as Teaching Methods

Comic Book Cover, 1941
Comic Book Cover, 1941

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America's Best Comics #1 February 1942
America's Best Comics #1 February 1942

But This Book Has Pictures! The Case for Graphic Novels in an AP Classroom

Comic Books in the History Classroom from Teachinghistory.org

Using Superhero Comics to Teach English and History from Edutopia (April 13, 2014)

Why Teach with Comics? from Reading with Pictures

20 Ways to Use Comics in the Your Classroom

See also, No Flying No Tights, a blog about excellent graphic books for use in the classroom.

Comic Books as Journalism: 10 Masterpieces of Graphic Nonfiction, The Atlantic, August 10, 2011

A Graphic Literature Library, Time, November 2003.

Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History. Joel Christian Gill, 2014

Senator Estes Kefauver
Senator Estes Kefauver

For an historical perspective, see Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency: Comic Books, "Soda-Pop," and Societal Harm" that includes audio from the hearings from April 21, 1954.

Banned Books Week: Comics and Controversy from University of Missouri Libraries

primary_sources.PNGThe Comic Book Code of 1954


Multimedia.pngConfidential File: Horror Comic Books! television program, October 9, 1955. Includes interview with Senator Estes Kefauver. Kefauver, Democratic Vice-President Candidate in 1956, was a leading critic of comic books.


Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 11.31.41 AM.pngSupreme Court Protects First Amendment Rights for Entertainment & New Medias in Brown v. EMA Decision


external image 200px-Documents_icon.svg.pngTeaching with Primary Sources


Benjamin Franklin AntiSlavery Address, 1789
Benjamin Franklin AntiSlavery Address, 1789

Collections of Primary Source Materials

Teaching with Documents from the National Archives. Includes forms for analyzing written documents, artifacts, cartoons, maps, motion pictures, photographs, posters and sound recordings.

Teacher's Guides and Analysis Tools from Library of Congress: Includes forms for analyzing documents, political cartoons, books, newspapers, music and songs, maps and photographs

AP Archive, the film and video archive of The Associated Press on YouTube. See also British Movietone, the world's largest newsreel archive covering events from 1895 to 1986

Student Discovery Sets for iPads, free from Library of Congress on the U.S. Constitution, Symbols of the US, Immigration, Dust Bowl, Harlem Renaissance, and Understanding the Cosmos

Adapting Documents for the Classroom: Equity and Access from Teachinghistory.org

America in Class: Primary Source Materials from the National Humanities Center

For more collections of primary sources, see the Web Resources for Teachers page on this wiki



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Strategies for Teaching with Primary Materials

Teaching with Primary Sources from Learn North Carolina

Michael Yell's Strategies for Using Primary Sources in Your Classroom from Teachinghistory.org

Reading Like an Historianlesson plans from Stanford History Education Group

A Guide to Reading Primary Sources, University of Pennsylvania

Top 10 Considerations When Using Primary Sources in Grades 8 - 12, National Council for History Education

Primary Source Lesson Plans

Teaching Future Historians: U.S. History Lesson Plans using Primary Documents from Illinois Historical Digitization Projects

Using Works of Art in Teaching American History from Glider Lehrman Institute of American Art


external image Group_people_icon.jpgCooperative Learning and Groupwork


Students Must Be Taught to Collaborate, Studies Say. Education Week (May 16, 2017)

Cooperative Learning for Engagement

Cooperative Learning from Learn North Carolina

Group work: Using Cooperative Learning Groups Effectively from Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University

Cooperative Learning Formats


external image Reports.gifFemale Peers in Small Work Groups Enhance Women's Motivation, Verbal Participation and Career Aspirations in Engineering. Nilanjana Dasgupta, et. al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 2015.
  • Having a high concentration of women in engineering teams allows women students to participate more actively, shrug off worries and feel confident.
  • Study done at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with 120 undergraduate engineering students
  • Importance of small groups or micro environments composed mostly of women or men and women in equal numbers instead of groups that are mostly male

external image 200px-P_writing_icon.svg.pngWriting


Roman letter concerning supplies of wheat, hides and sinews (1st-2nd century AD)
Roman letter concerning supplies of wheat, hides and sinews (1st-2nd century AD)

Evidence-Based Historical Writing from TeachingHistory.org

Writing in the Social Studies Classroom from Colonial Williamsburg

Journals in a Facing History Classroom from Facing History and Ourselves

Creative Writing in the History Classroom from Teaching United States History blog

Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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Click here for Poetry Writing Resources


Poetic Form: Cento Poems

Nurturing the Omnivore: Approaches to Teaching Poetry from the Poetry Foundation




Student Role Play
Student Role Play

Role Plays and Simulations


If There Is No Struggle . . . Teaching a People's History of the Abolition Movement from the Zinn Education Project

You Are There: Historical Simulations from Cengage