Sphero Team
7 Teaching Strategies to Bring Learning to Life

Teaching is a craft. And like any skilled craft, there are many different tools and approaches that may be used in any given context. Gone are the days of standing in front of a class and merely speaking for hours on end—teachers are increasingly using different strategies to engage students deeply and enhance the learning experience.

Teachers don’t need to keep to just one strategy, either. A blend of approaches works well to serve the diverse needs of children and the different ways that they absorb information. In fact, teachers can incorporate strategies that welcome students into the teaching process, helping to communicate instructions and goals more clearly.

With that in mind, here are seven teaching strategies to help bring learning to life and keep your teaching craft creative.

Use visual aids

Visual aids can be a great way to present information to students so that they can make a visual connection with the material. Luckily for teachers, there’s no shortage of tools to facilitate visual learning.

One of the most powerful aids at your disposal is your whiteboard. You probably already use it in most classes, but try designating specific areas of the board to certain topics or themes. You could also use different marker colors for each subject, making it easier for student recall in the future. Likewise, sketching out images, games, and metaphors ensures that students have a visual representation of what’s being explained to them.

Similar to the whiteboard, charts and graphs help students store information via the structure, colors, and line trends. They also allow students to more easily organize concepts and articulate thoughts. Slideshows have a similar effect, where you can incorporate dynamic images and transitions, making the content more interactive and therefore more memorable.

Additionally, play relevant videos after your lesson to reinforce what students have just learned by applying it to real-life scenarios. If students can witness the theory in action, they’ll have a deeper, more meaningful understanding of it. 

Maybe those class movie days right before spring break were actually part of a strategy after all…?

Follow inquiry-based learning

Rather than simply being told what to think, inquiry-based learning is all about students exploring how they think. It involves asking questions based on real-life experiences and encourages students to be more curious about their learning process and how they arrive at their conclusions. 

Inquiry-based learning involves discussions, asking questions, and guided lectures—all of which are correlated with the development of statistical reasoning

Looking to try inquiry-based learning? You can start by asking your students to come up with a problem statement and several corresponding questions that will help them better understand the problem. Then, ask them to describe scenarios that reveal why the problem statement is important or relevant. Next, give students time to research the topic and prepare to present their findings to the class. When they finish, students should reflect on and share about what did and did not work in their learning process.

The activity is not so much about the conclusion that they arrive at, but more about what didn’t make sense, what was interesting, and what they would change if they were to do it again.

Adopt the Socratic method

If a teaching strategy was developed by a Greek philosopher and is still being used today, it probably works. The Socratic Method was spurred by Socrates and centers around a dialogue between students and teachers, with the teacher continually posing questions to delve into the underlying beliefs that shape students’ perspectives. 

At its core, the Socratic method is about nurturing critical thinking. When asking students to share their opinion, push them to clearly state their position. Then, ask them for evidence—where have they heard/seen the statistics they’re presenting? What personal experience have they had with the topic? Finally, challenge their assumptions and repeat the cycle if necessary. Along the way, encourage students to address the whole class and allow them to change their minds. The exercise isn’t about proving anyone wrong, but rather getting them to reflect on how they form their stance.

Lean into play-based learning

Play-based learning is an active form of learning that relies on games and physical activities to empower students to make sense of the world. Play-based learning can boost social and cognitive skills, emotional maturity, self-confidence, and has been shown to be more effective than direct instruction at improving mathematical and spatial skills in early learners. While play-based learning is especially powerful for young children in their formative years, it can additionally support older students as well.

Enhance play-based learning by establishing environments where playing feels natural and accessible—that could be having games set out, quizzes on the wall, or clues dotted around the room. The key thing here is to have an objective—play isn’t purely for the sake of play, but to drive the development of a new skill or realization.

Sphero indi is a perfect example of play-based learning. Immediately, students are able to let their curiosity drive the experience by exploring how indi responds to different colors and how to identify and create logical patterns – all through play! Once students have gained a basic understanding of how color influences indi's actions, they begin solving puzzles that increase in complexity while retaining their playful nature – play-based learning at its best.

Experiment with cross-curricular learning

Cross-curricular learning looks at forming patterns of information between different academic subjects. By having interconnected topics, students can more comprehensively understand and practice new skills. Cross-curricular learning typically takes a little more planning than other teaching strategies but it enables students to build background knowledge more holistically, ensuring meaningful understanding and retention.

Try pairing up with other teachers in your school or institution to brainstorm interdisciplinary lessons. For instance, having students write a poem that they perform in a particular genre in music class while investigating the time period from which the structure of the poem was developed during history/social studies. Or have students pair coding with literature by participating in Sphero’s Storytelling 8: Shakespeare Smackdown, where students create a program that teaches their robot Shakespearean insults! Cross-curricular learning provides teachers with an opportunity to combine subjects that aren’t often put together.

Opt for project-based learning

For many students, the biggest hurdle in learning is overcoming the abstract nature of theories and concepts. Project-based learning is brilliant because it invokes real-world challenges and problems to enable students to better comprehend the information they’re digesting. Students can then demonstrate their understanding by making a public product or solution for a real audience.

A popular example of project-based learning is having students think and present an existing modern city with climate change in mind. They should consider what issues climate change causes for cities and their populations, and what infrastructure is needed as a result. To amp up the STEM learning, have students program Sphero BOLT to different parts of the project as students explain .

By shaping tasks around realities that students currently experience (or will experience), teachers are able to root objectives in the real world, which increases engagement while promoting design thinking and deepening understanding.

Explore literacy strategies

Written words can be another great way for students to absorb information, whether that be reading words or writing them down. This type of learning is more independent, but that’s not to say there aren’t strategies that can be applied in group learning settings like the classroom.

Start by inviting students to read the lesson you’ve planned before you begin class. Pre-reading will give students a chance to relate to the content ahead of time. Also, be sure to let them take notes during the class to reinforce what they have already read and keep them more focused during the spoken part of the lesson (which may be more difficult to digest for some).

No two students are the same and no one strategy will reach all students. Understanding these different approaches will allow you to determine what best aligns with your students and their needs while giving you the creative flexibility to move between strategies depending on the subject and objective. 

Not sure where to get started? Sphero creates coding robots, design-and-build kits, and engaging lesson plans that stimulate exploration, imagination, and perseverance across all learning strategies. Happy teaching!