Can Active Learning Approach Be Used in General Education Instruction?
Teachers often tell us that they don't think that they can use an Active Learning approach because they need to align all goals with the general education curriculum. Some may think that Active Learning looks too much like "play" and that it can therefore not be part of a regular school program. Active Learning is an instructional approach for individuals of all ages who are still developmentally in the sensorimotor and early pre-operational stages of learning. We're happy to tell you that this approach can indeed be used to teach almost any content at a developmentally-appropriate level for these learners!
This boy is doing a science lesson using a support bench.
What does the law say?
State and federal laws ensure that all children have access to the General Education Curriculum. IEPs should reflect alignment to the same content that their grade level peers are accessing. This means they should have the same opportunity to study areas of science, social studies, reading, math, and so forth. Learn more.
Start with Assessment!
The Functional Scheme assessment will help you to identify skills in various domains. It is imperative that you know what skills are the focus of any of your activities. Since many of these skills focus on the activity of the child (listening, vocalizing, reaching, exploring, manipulating objects, etc.) these skills are behaviors you hope to see to indicate that the child is making progress toward a specific goal.
Resources Related to Aligning Goals to the Standard Curriculum
To align to goals found in the General Curriculum, you can use a variety of tools such as Texas Early Learning Pathways, Dynamic Learning Maps, or the Common Core State Standards. Learn more about these tools.
What would this look like?
Think about all of the math skills that can be taught using a Little Room or a position board: comparison of size, shape, weight, quantity. Concept development is the foundation for any academic subject, and concepts from object permanence to same and different can be introduced and practiced through Active Learning. Download a handout on aligning to General Curriculum goals and creating lesson plans for Active Learning.