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5 key points of Active Learning

5 Key Points of Active Learning

It's important to remember that Active Learning is an APPROACH and not a piece of specialized equipment.  If you're new to the practice, start by watching a short (7 min.) video by Patty Obrzut on the 5 key points to remember.
  1. Active Participation: This means that the individual initiates some actions without verbal or physical prompting from an adult. The learner is the one who determines when and how to act on an object or make contact and engage with the adult.  The key is to promote opportunities for the learner to be an active participant by ensuring that the environment is accessible, interesting, and inviting exploration without interruption.

  2. Repetition of Opportunities:  Practice makes perfect! This is critical to learning for anyone.  Learners with significant multiple disabilities need thousands and thousands of opportunities to practice a skill so that it becomes automatic.  This will help them to generalize the skill to other situations and environments.

  3. Developmentally Appropriate:  Learners with complex needs are much older chronologically than their developmental level, but it is critical that activities be appropriate to their developmental level.  Remember that skills develop in a fairly predictable order.  For example, you can't throw a ball until you have the ability to pick it up.  You can't pick it up until you can coordinate the movement of your fingers.  In Active Learning it is important to understand the developmental sequence of skills and provide activities that require skills the learner has.  

    We invite you to watch a video on the Active Learning Space site about developmentally appropriate activities, showing what happens when a typically developing two year old is given a task that is way above her developmental level.

  4. Reinforcing to the Individual: This is true for all of us!  We all need to feel that we benefit in some way in order to be motivated.  Our role as the adults working with the learner is to figure out what is motivating for that individual.  

  5. Limited Distractions:  This is perhaps the toughest one for many teachers, parents and other adults.  We need to learn to be quiet and not to interrupt the learning that is taking place.  When anyone is trying to learn something new, distractions work against the process.  For example, have you ever tried to learn a new computer program and people won't stop talking or asking you questions? If you are like most people, you probably had a hard time learning what you needed to until they left you alone.  If we interrupt a learner's exploration and experimentation by telling the individual he or she is doing a good job or trying to show the individual what he or she can do, we interrupt the learning.  We need to minimize distractions as much as possible for all learners.  This includes making sure a learner is not hungry, tired, or wet. That the room is not too hot, too cold, too overstimulating, too understimulating.  We must limit our comments to times when a learner takes a little break from what he/she is doing and is paying attention to us. Then make comments pertinent to the learner's activities and keep the language simple.


Active Learning Pinterest board
Keep up with what's new on our Active Learning Pinterest board!

Join us for our 5-part Active Learning Study Group!

These webinars will focus on a variety of topics, such as setting up a classroom and schedule, choosing materials, addressing the student with CVI, using Active Learning with older students and information on research related to Active Learning. Various guest speakers will be a part of this year’s presentations. 
4 children on support benches playing in a tub of balls

Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Perkins School for the Blind, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired will host this series of five webinars on Active Learning, an instructional approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen.

Beginning in September, the series will run through the 2017-18 school year and participants are encouraged to join in each of the sessions, in order to ensure continuity. All of the webinars will be recorded and archived, so that they can be viewed at a later date.  YOU MUST REGISTER SEPARATELY FOR EACH SESSION.

Our next session on November 30 will focus on using Active Learning with older learners.

Session 2:  November 30, 2017
Session 3:  January 25, 2018
Session 4:  March 29, 2018
Session 5:  May 17, 2018

All sessions will be held at the following times: 

4:00-5:00 -- Eastern
3:00-4:00 -- Central
2:00-3:00 -- Mountain
1:00-2:00 -- Pacific

This training event has been approved by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) and the State Board for Educator Certification based on the actual hours of the presentation not including breaks.
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Perkins School for the Blind · 175 N. Beacon Street · Watertown, MA 02472 · USA

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