Interactive learning is a method of teaching that reaches beyond textbooks to really immerse students in a topic of study. Often involving technology or other interactive methods, teachers across Prosper are incorporating these methods into their classrooms to positive results.
“When students can make ‘real life’ connections to the concepts they are being taught in our classrooms, it takes on personal meaning for them and gives purpose to their learning,” Michelle Askew, fourth grade math and science teacher at Windsong Ranch Elementary, said. “Applying our knowledge within an interactive learning environment makes connections meaningful for our kids and demonstrates for them that we do indeed apply the use of what we are taught in class to everyday life.”
One such interactive education segment was the recent presentation at Windsong by Chief Meteorologist and children’s book author Steve LaNore from KXII television news channel. LaNore presented to third, fourth and fifth-grade students about weather and tornado safety with spring around the corner. He also incorporated learning objectives on how to interpret weather maps.
Askew was largely responsible for this event and explained the importance of the presentation.
“As a positive role model for young scientists with inquiring minds, he is a perfect match for inspiring our students to engage and connect with the growth mindset that is taking place at Windsong,” Askew said. “Our students have recently studied patterns of the earth, including weather frontal systems and how to determine the purpose of symbols on a weather map. Rather than limiting their knowledge to lecture and online research within the classroom, we desired to expose students to real life applications for these learning objectives.”
Another interactive program that is taking place at Windsong Ranch Elementary is the “Wonder Lab” that is led by Gifted and Talented facilitator, Nancy Melnick.
“In Wonder Lab, students research things that are important to them, or that they are passionate about,” Melnick said. “I have had third graders research what causes a stroke and how the brain looks after a stroke, what doctors see when they diagnose cancer, and how different types of cancer look on the scans, and exactly how glass is recycled to help save the earth. I have had fourth graders study the math of baseball, dark matter and red tide. Some of my fifth graders have studied teleportation and time travel, and have learned to write code for animation.”
Wonder Lab is not just for GT kids, but for students who have demonstrated competency in the classroom with their work and need a challenge. This provides incentive for students to do well in class so that they will be recommended to attend.
“The purpose of Wonder Lab is to provide a venue for exploration and discovery for that bright child that needs something extra,” Melnick said. “After a period of time researching, each child prepares a product to present to their class. They use Google Slides, cardboard boxes, posters, verbal presentations, or any method that they choose.”
Prosper ISD is incorporating more events and projects that allow students an opportunity to learn in different ways. Through the use of interactive learning, students are able to engage in hands-on learning and become more involved in the learning process to better retain the information they are taught.