One of the goals of the Active Learning Foundation is to encourage people to use activities as one of their teaching strategies.  We would also like to support those who are already using this effective educational model.  One way of doing this is by sharing some of the stories that we have received from individuals who work with children and youth.  If you would like to share your stories with us, you can mail them to Active Learning Foundation, 3835 West 800 North, Cedar City UT 84720 or e-mail them to us at

Here is a condensed version of a letter we received from Maribel Mehling who teachers Spanish in grades pre-kindergarten through fourth at Summit School and sixth grade at The Marshall School in Minnesota.

I have been using active learning activities for six months.  I have had such great results from teaching students in this manner.  The students are more upbeat and enthused in the day's lesson.  I have noticed an improvement in my teaching and in my overall self-confidence since I began using active learning activities.  I enjoy seeing the students so enthused and involved in the lessons I provide.  I have incorporated several of Tom Jackson's activities into my classroom and have had great results.  

I have a partially blind child in my second grade classroom and it has been difficult for the children to realize what this child goes through on a daily basis.  So, I used an activity from Tom's book Activities That Teach Family Values  called, "Are You Deaf".  The activity calls for the students watch a television show with no sound and later had them turn away from the television and only listen to the show.  The students were complaining because they could not understand what was being said and could not keep track due to their inability to see.  We then discussed the issue and the students talked about what they could do to help students and people in the community who have such a disability. 

A few days after the lesson, I noticed students displaying bingo cards in front of our partially blind student so she could see them better and would give her the colors she was looking for during a coloring activity.  It was nice to see the students being much more sensitive, understanding and respectful towards the child.   

Here is a response from Stephanie Holcomb who lives in Birmingham, Alabama.  Thank you for sharing your success with us!

As a school counselor and church youth director, I have had the opportunity to incorporate many lessons from the books, Activities That Teach and More Activities That Teach.  I have recommended both books to my colleagues.  Every topic that is presented is relevant to our youth today..

I selected the topic of diversity to present to my youth group.  My youth group consists of both male and female students ranging from seventh to tenth grade.  As a general rule, we have about eight kids in attendance on Sunday evenings.  These children are from middle class families, who live in a thriving diverse community. 

I chose the lesson "Fingerprints", from the book More Activities That Teach, to involve the students in learning about diversity.  After a discussion on how each person is unique and special, we had everyone go around the room and compare their fingerprints with those of others.  We also included an activity where the students used their fingerprints to make designs and/or pictures.  Each student had the opportunity to guess what each picture or design represented.

Our final activity was "Funny Bone", also from More Activities That Teach.  The students had fun selecting a funny comic strip from their newspaper.  They had an even harder time ranking which comic strip was the funniest.  They all had differences in opinion which led us into a wonderful discussion on how these differences help make our society a better place to live.

I believe that both activities helped the youth group to be more accepting of people from different races, cultures, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic status.  The youth responded to the activities by making a resolution to be considerate of others who are different from them.    

Here is a response from Mrs. Billiet who lives in Visalia, CA.  Thank you for sharing your success with us!

My students learn best by doing!  Wednesdays our D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer teaches us many of the important values which your activities highlight. We focus on self-esteem, stress management, goal setting, peer pressure, ways to say "No", prevention of involvement in drugs, gangs and violence, and other important values. This is why I use your active learning ideas every week as a core piece of my sixth grade curriculum.

In the past, Wednesday was just "Hump Day."  Now it is a
special time for us to focus on these decision making skills. First our D.A.R.E. officer, Mr. Dyar, teaches his message for the day, then we team teach using your activities. I believe parents are the best and most important teachers of their children, so I invite them into the classroom as well. After each activity we break up into small groups to discuss the questions at the end.  We also encourage these conversations to continue at home.  My favorite activities are Circle Juggle, Pressure Point, Magic Cup, I'll Bet
You Can't, Dollar Jump, Decide Early, Line Up, and Quick Tie.  We have been having so much fun in our classroom, that Officer Dyar has been using these wonderful ideas in other classes and schools around our school district!  He recently wrote this about my teaching of these activities, "Mrs. Billiet has demonstrated a genuine interest in preventing children from entering into drug use.  I have observed her practical demonstrations, teaching each
child to think (twice) before taking the first steps toward drug abuse.  I have seen a miraculous change in the behavior after her planned scenarios pertaining to drugs. She definitely believes in the future of our children
and is a willing teacher who goes beyond the call of duty for the health and safety of every child."

Honestly Tom, I have seen a difference myself in the way students look forward to D.A.R.E. days!  In past years the paper and pencil basis of the D.A.R.E. workbook has not been nearly as involving as your ideas are.  Your
activities come packed with automatic motivation for participation!  Students are ready to have fun with our D.A.R.E. officer.  This is a great thing in itself, and would not have happened as successfully without your active
learning techniques!

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