If you plan your lessons the way you would plan workshops it is easier to see how you would structure the learning process to keep students actively engaged.
Hone Your Message
Plan what core elements of subject matter and learning objectives you will focus on. Distill these elements into 2 or 3 core discovery questions.
Post questions on chalkboard, flipchart, whiteboard etc. with room for students to write possible answers or additional questions as they arrive.
Consider posting questions at the end of the previous day for students to consider (not as homework, but just food for thought) for the next morning’s discussion.
You’ll find that your students who are more reluctant to take a risk in class may be willing to post an interesting question or answer in this kind of informal and somewhat anonymous environment. (If you’re using social media in your classroom, students can “tweet” their comments as well.)
Mix Things Up
This step can vary greatly depending whether you’re introducing a specific concept that is part of a bigger unit or whether this is the launch of an entirely new subject of inquiry.
Briefly discuss discovery questions and any additional questions/answers students have posted.
Introduce a short video, present new information (or even better, go on a field trip) relating to your discovery questions, to both grab students’ interest and lay a foundation for the rest of this workshop.
Keep “lecture” brief.
Use case studies and real life stories to keep information relevant and engaging.
Be visual wherever possible.
Encourage questions and relevant input to keep students actively engaged.
Break into small groups for futher discussion.
Have each group present their ideas to the rest of the class for even further discussion.
Pay Attention to the Setting
For each new “workshop”, be willing to rearrange your classroom to facilitate the type of activitites you will be focussed on.
Take Away (Assessment)
The purpose of assessment is to see if they’ve “got it” or if more discovery and application is needed.
Assessment is easier if it’s process rather than product based. i.e. how is each child contributing, integrating information, finding relevance at each stage along the way.
What is each child able to “take away” from your “workshop”?