Friday 28 February 2020

Actively Learn - A Huge Resource of Ready-Made Interactive Learning for English Language Learners

Actively Learn isn’t just a great source of learning content for grades 6 through to 12, though if you are teaching adult learners much of the grade 12 content would still be appropriate. It’s also an LMS that enables you to create and track the use of learning materials across your classes, and a teacher development tool that enables you to train teachers in aspects of materials development and instructional design.

Ready-Made Content for ELA

Actively Learn already has a really substantial amount of readymade interactive learning content when you log in. The content is easy to browse or search, initially by subject (ELA, Science or Social Studies) and then by a range of different parameters, from grade to topic to theme or genre.

Once you have found some interesting looking content for your students you can click through to see the activities that have been designed for it and the guidance notes for the teacher. There is also a brief introduction to the text. The questions that you can see as you scroll through the text are interactive and when the text is assigned to the student their responses will be tracked into the reporting part of the site.

If you want to change some of the questions or add cultural notes or word definitions through the text you can also do this, just click on the ‘Customize’ button at the top of the screen.

To add notes, questions or definitions to words, just highlight them and you will see a menu appear.

Once you have your text and all of the tasks ready, just click on ‘Assign’ and the text will be sent to the class that you choose.

Creating Classes and Measuring Learning

Setting up classes is simple. Just click on ‘Add new class’ on the main menu and you’ll be able to give the class a name and select the grade of the students. You get a simple code to give to students that enables them to enroll in your class. Once the students start to interact with the content you’ll be able to track their work through the Gradebook and Student data. You can also get an overall view of the class data.

Creating and Customizing Content

Actively Learn isn’t just for the development of reading skills though, you can also access or create your own content based around online video. Just select ‘Video’ on the ‘Genre’ tab and you’ll see the selection of ready-made video content. When you select a video you’ll see that it has question marks beneath the video play bar. When the students get to this point in the video it will pause and show them a question. By clicking on ‘Customize’ and then clicking on the play bar you can either edit or add new questions to the video.

If you decide you want to add your own content, then click on ‘Import’ and select the type of content you want to add. You can then start to add interactions and questions to it before assigning it to a class.

Actively Learn for Teacher Development

As I said at the beginning of this article, Actively Learn is also a tool for teacher development and has some really well-structured learning activities for teachers that will help them use the platform more successfully. To find these materials click on ‘Professional Learning’ in the menu.

The Professional Learning section starts with a research paper that teachers can read and comment on. The interactions around this paper will be shared with other teachers who are registered at the same school. The platform then has a collection of sequenced activities that teachers can work through to develop different aspects of their professional knowledge whilst helping them to use the platform more effectively with some ‘hands-on tasks’.

Actively Learn Plans

Actively Learn is a pretty impressive platform with a great and constantly growing bank of materials. As a teacher you can sign up for an individual account and use Actively Learn for free, but for the real power of the platform, along with API integrations into Google Classrooms, SIS or another LMS, you’ll need a premium plan. These plans are negotiated with schools according to what elements of the platform and integration they need and the number of students involved. At the school level, it’s clear to see how Actively Learn could have really clear and measurable benefits that could have genuine impact on students’ learning.

You can find links to many more resources like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at:
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