One of the fundamental principles for designing significant learning experiences is to engage students in the process. Engaging students means to make them active participants in the learning experience so they have the opportunity not only to make sense of the content, but also to apply it in new contexts.

When using Active Learning Strategies, students gain ownership of their learning. They are the driving force behind the class. At the same time, the instructor becomes a facilitator between the content and the students. This is not an easy task since the facilitation takes place using meaningful activities.

Here are some activities that instructors include in their classes:

Fish Bowl

  1. Ask students to write down a question based on a topic of the lesson.
  2. Then, collects those answers and redistribute them, making sure that students don’t get the questions they wrote down.
  3. After that, ask the students to provide an answer to the question.
  4. Finally, allow them to share the question and the answer with the entire class.

Here is a video of how to perform this activity using technology:

Station Rotation

  1. Create stations around the classroom. Each station must have a unique prompt.
  2. Then, assign students to each station and ask them to answer the prompt in front of them.
  3. When they are ready, ask them to move to a new station and answer the question in front of them.
  4. When they are back to their first station, ask them to summarize all answers.

Here is a video of how to perform this activity using technology:


  1. Provide a prompt to your students.
  2. Allow them to think about the answer for a minute.
  3. Then, ask them to get in pairs and discuss the same prompt, if you want, you can keep asking them to get into more significant groups.
  4. Then, ask them to summarize the main takeaways from their conversation.

Here is a video of how to perform this activity using technology:

Have you tried Fish Bowl, Station Rotation, or Think Pair Share in classes that you teach? What was the outcome? Did you have any unforeseen challenges and what succeses did you celebrate? Share your stories and questions with others below!

Don’t forget to come to KCELT (Cedar Hall 2094) if you’d  like help with any of the strategies shown here. Engage…Discover…Connect

One thought on “Engaging Students in Active Learning

  1. These are great active learning techniques that require very little prep that we can keep in our “back pockets” as instructors. I like to use a variant of think-pair share called think-INK-pair share – TIPS. This gives students some reflective writing time before pairing. I find this is immensely helpful because sometimes they aren’t ready to jump into convo with others. They need to pause and collect their thoughts.

    I also use Gallery Walk which is a variation of Station Rotation.

    I teach in a MALIE room and I like using iPads but sometimes the tech just gets in the way (e.g. syncing iPads to Apple TVS doesn’t always works seamlessly) so I just go low tech many times.

    If anyone would like to see TIPS or Gallery Walk in action, let me know and you are welcome to come to my College 101 class in the Fall!

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