The InterActive Classroom: Practical Strategies for Involving Students in the Learning Process

Books

Ron Nash

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  • Back Matter
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  • Copyright

    The Complete Active Classroom Series

    The InterActive Classroom, Third Edition. . .

    . . . provides practical strategies for shifting the role of students from passive observers to active participants in their own learning.

    The Active Teacher. . .

    . . . focuses on the critically important first five days of school and becoming a proactive rather than reactive teacher.

    The Active Mentor. . .

    . . . gives teacher mentors practical strategies for going beyond support to actively accelerating the growth of new teachers.

    The Active Classroom Field Book. . .

    . . . highlights practices inspired by the bestselling The Active Classroom—and shows how teachers shifted responsibility for learning from themselves to their students!

    The Active Workshop. . .

    . . . illustrates how workshop facilitators can accelerate the continuous improvement of educators by turning attendees into active participants.

    Dedication

    To my classmates in the North East High School Class of 1967

    forever friends

    forever young

    rock on

    Foreword

    Picture this: A teacher walks up to a student and asks him, “Where is your book?” The student, without hesitation, responds that his book is at home. The teacher responds in a frustrated tone, “Well, what is it doing there?” Without hesitation, the student quips back, “Having more fun than I am.” I have no idea if this really happened, but the premise is relevant to the subsequent pages of this book. However, before reading one more word of this foreword or book, I want you to close your eyes and picture the perfect classroom. What do you see? What is the teacher doing? What are the learners doing? How would you describe the physical environment? What do you notice about the feel of the room?

    My guess is that you did NOT picture students sitting in fearful silence, the teacher continuously talking, and desks arranged in symmetric rows. There may even be small pieces of tape on the floor that provide geographic markers for the arrangement of those desks. Well, Ron Nash does not picture this type of classroom, either. The classroom he pictures in his mind, and I do as well, is a classroom that is interactive. The teacher and the learners are interacting with ideas and concepts, facilitated by the skills and processes associated with those ideas and concepts. There is dialogue and discourse around the day’s learning that moves learning forward, not just through the acquisition and consolidation of ideas but the assimilation of feedback given and received by the teacher and students. This interactive classroom is not a figment of our imaginations. The interactive classroom exists in many schools around the world.

    My daughter, Tessa, is 7 years old and a very active first grader. My son, Jackson, is 4 years old and is an equally active preschool student. Having visited both of their classrooms as a parent, I have witnessed the impact of an interactive classroom on the growth and achievement of learners. This growth and achievement encompasses cognitive and social-emotional learning, not solely reserved for the benefit of standardized test scores. Yes, through their interactive classrooms they interact with reading, writing, and arithmetic but in a way that allows them to interact with their peers and teachers. They are learning to ask questions, dialogue with their peers and teachers, and make meaning of the world around them. As I said earlier, this type of learning environment is neither a figment of our imaginations nor an anomaly. However, there is still work to do.

    In The InterActive Classroom, Ron Nash walks us through the components necessary for creating a learning environment, a perfect classroom that maximizes the growth and achievement of all learners. His extensive experience as an educator allows him to paint a picture for you that is transferrable to your own classroom by maximizing the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral engagement of all learners. This picture brings together research on how students learn with the practical application of that research to strategies and approaches to teaching and learning. From structured conversations, managed movement, music, clarity, and making thinking visible through writing, Ron Nash rips up the tape off of the floor for the rows of desks and shows us how to ensure that if your book is left at home it will NOT have more fun than the learners in the classroom.

    Ron’s approach is rooted in three of the most fundamental rules of engagement: (1) how you feel is real; it is the link to how you think; (2) where the mind goes, the person follows; (3) we can influence both 1 and 2. Focusing on emotional engagement, Ron devotes significant attention to how learners feel about the learning and the learning environment (i.e., emotional engagement). How learners feel is strongly related to what they will and won’t think about (i.e., cognitive engagement). After all, students won’t learn from someone they don’t like or in an environment they dread. So Ron describes how to get learners thinking about the right content, skills, and processes at just the right time. And what learners think about drives them to action (i.e., behavioral engagement). His approach provides clear ideas for making student thinking and learning visible through specific strategies.

    This is the third edition of this book. I own the previous two editions—giving the second edition to my students at James Madison University. I would be remiss if I did not direct your attention to both the change in title and substance. First, in this third edition, the change in title from The Active Classroom to The InterActive Classroom is significant. Teachers and students can be active and not interactive. The emphasis on interactive speaks to the value Ron Nash places on the collaborative nature of learning. Second, Ron elevates the role of the teacher in this collaborative learning. By making learners’ thinking visible, teachers must constantly evaluate their impact on student learning, reflect on their decisions as a teacher, and adjust when necessary to further enhance growth and achievement. These two changes will raise the bar on interactive classrooms.

    Before leaving you to your own reading, reflecting, and revising of your own classroom, I want to share something personal with you. Ron Nash is my colleague, but perhaps more importantly, he is my friend. I have had the pleasure of sitting in a “classroom” and learning from Ron. He “practices what he preaches” as he creates a learning environment that embodies what he means when he says The InterActive Classroom. There are students across the globe who are better at reading, writing, and arithmetic because of Ron Nash. There are instructional leaders and teachers across the globe who are better in their schools and classrooms because of Ron Nash. He changed the way I set up my classroom. Although I cannot speak for them, I feel confident saying that my students are grateful. When I look at my two children, I see that they love their schools, teachers, and learning because they are blessed to be in an interactive classroom.

    My hope is that you will interact with the concepts, ideas, skills, and processes in this book and experience the same success. Your learners deserve it. You deserve it too!

    John Almarode, PhDAssociate Professor of Education, James Madison UniversityDirector, Content Teaching AcademyCodirector, Center for STEM Education and Outreach

    Acknowledgments

    Looking back over several decades in education, it occurs to me that I must thank the teachers, administrators, and others who have shared their expertise and experience with me as a matter of course. My most rewarding years in the classroom were shared with my fellow members of the Apple Team at Plaza Middle School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, from 1992 through 1994. My colleagues in central office in Virginia Beach taught me a great deal about teaching and learning from 1994 until I retired in 2007. A special thank you goes out to Kay Burke, a wonderful author, consultant, and friend; Kay introduced me to the great team at Corwin Press, and that opened the door to a dozen years as an author and presenter.

    I thank the educators who contributed to all three editions of this book with lessons and other information from their classrooms: Diana Abil-Mona, Jeff Bonine, Elise Brune, Lisa Crooks, Kathy Galford, Jennifer Henry, Melissa Martini, and Terri Myers. Thanks to Dianne Kinnison and Brian T. Jones for their wonderful illustrations.

    Many thanks to Jessica Allan, Mia Rodriguez, and Lucas Schleicher at Corwin. Their ideas, guidance, expertise, and patience made it possible for me to complete this third edition of The InterActive Classroom.

    Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Candy, for readily agreeing to my early retirement from the Virginia Beach Schools in 2007 so I could follow my dream of writing, consulting, and presenting.

    About the Author

    Ron Nash’s professional career in education has included teaching social studies at the middle and high school levels. He also served as an instructional coordinator and organizational development specialist for the Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) for 13 years. In that capacity, Ron trained thousands of teachers and other school division employees in such varied topics as classroom management, instructional strategies, presentation techniques, customer service, and process management. After Ron’s retirement from VBCPS in 2007, he founded Ron Nash and Associates, Inc., a company dedicated to working with teachers in the area of brain-compatible learning. He is the author of 16 books for teachers and administrators. Originally from Pennsylvania, Ron and his wife, Candy, a former French teacher and administrator, have lived in Virginia Beach for the past 35 years. Ron can be reached through his website at www.ronnashandassociates.com.

    Unique Features of this Book

    This third edition of The InterActive Classroom contains features not found in the first two editions of the book. The larger trim size and lay-flat binding allows the reader to write in the margins and provide answers to questions throughout the book and, specifically, at the end of each chapter. The book should lay flat on a desk or table, allowing the reader to write easily where room has been provided.

    Also, teachers get caught up in the content and grand strategy of lesson design, and tactical considerations often get overlooked. Each chapter contains tactical tips related to that content. Here is an example from Chapter 5 on “Presenting With Confidence.” The tips are process related and can be used in any classroom.

    Also, there is a feature called “The InterActive Classroom at a Glance” that is now available online. I have always recommended that teachers observe colleagues in classrooms throughout the building or district. Teachers tend to stay pretty insulated from what is going on elsewhere, and this means much of the great teaching and learning happening in other classrooms goes unobserved and overlooked by colleagues who could benefit from such observations. This online feature contains specific “look fors” that highlight the differences between passive classroom environments and those that are more interactive.

    The emphasis throughout the book is on practicality. Teachers want things they can use tomorrow. The third edition of The InterActive Classroom provides engagement strategies, poses questions (rhetorical and otherwise), and presents “Tactical Tips” intended to help classrooms run smoothly.

  • Notes

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