Use a variety of active learning methods


The best way of making sure that all members of the group engage with all of the subject content, especially the key concepts and learning points, is to use several different teaching methods to get the same message across.

Some people learn effectively by reading texts, listening to instructions and taking notes – and others do not. This does not mean that they cannot learn: rather, that people have different learning strengths and preferences.  If you use a variety of methods, you will make sure that no one is left out or falls behind,  either because of literacy issues or because their learning strengths are different to the dominant teaching methods.    

Some teachers and learners find it helpful to think of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic ways of teaching and learning, an approach known as VAK

Visual : Looking and seeing

Auditory: Listening and hearing

Kinaesthetic: Acting and doing 


Examples of visual methods of teaching and learning include:

  • creating images – such as collages, drawings, paintings, mind-maps, flowcharts, posters, , charts or graphs – to summarise key learning points, illustrate facts, processes, ideas, or pose problems and solutions; 
  • using images or statistical charts to trigger thought and discussion;
  • search for relevant images and videos on the web;
  • taking photographs and making videos, to represent or illustrate key concepts, processes or information;


Examples of auditory methods include:

  • using songs and poems related to the topic;
  • asking learners to compose their own rhymes and raps to summarise key information, explain processes or concepts, express views and ideas;
  • asking learners to find subject-relevant audio-recordings on the web;
  • selecting or composing music (without words) to communicate the key learning;
  • asking learners to find simple mnemonics to remember phone numbers or other data;


Examples of kinaesthetic methods include:

  • building 3D models of key facts and concepts;
  • using dance or mime or movement to convey main ideas and    learning points;
  • forming group sculptures: members of the group form themselves into a human ‘sculpture’ that represents the main points they wish to communicate;
  • creating and playing team games, quizzes, competitions, involving physical movement and a mix of materials and activities (for example, board games, computer games, card games). 


Remember to mix and match:

For example, if the learners form a group ‘sculpture’ to demonstrate a learning point, it can be photographed as a ‘family portrait’ - a visual reminder of the key learning points involved.

Activities can be alternatives to literacy-focused methods and at the same time involve literacy development.  In creating a subject-related board game, for example, learners might engage in:

  • reading (books and web) to research the topic and identify useful challenges and questions and checking the accuracy of answers or solutions;
  • phrasing and writing the questions appropriately;
  • using the numeracy involved in making the equipment – for example calculating the dimensions of the board;
  • planning scoring systems or rules, and ways of recording scores;
  • working out the costs of manufacturing and retailing the game; 
  • perhaps including some subject-related writing, numeracy and ICT tasks among the game’s questions or challenges.

In such activities, subject-learning and literacy development are integrated with the thinking involved in constructing the game, and in playing it for enjoyment and learning.