Updated: Sep 13, 2019
How to Structure a Experiential Lesson with Big Impact!
Raising awareness and understanding of the global challenges facing humanity and our planet are perfect platforms for experiential educators to explore complex concepts, develop student knowledge and inspire positive change.
One of the most incredible ways to successfully lead an experiential learning session outside or inside a classroom is based on the 7E Instructional Model developed by Dr. Arthur Eisenkraft. The 7E Model provides 7 easy-to-follow steps for educators to follow in order to maximize student learning and impact and it really is effective!
Step 1: Elicit Prior Understanding
Finding out what your students already know about your topic is the first step in any experiential learning quest. It’s important that you ask what the students think about the topic you'd like to teach as their answers will give you an idea of any prior knowledge the students may have. This can provide you with a feel of the level to pitch your lesson at and it should inform your approach for the next 6 steps of the 7E Model.
There’s no need to go into depth and gather a consensus on an issue at this point. Rather it’s a simple way to gauge student understanding and allow you as the educator to tailor to the learner needs of your group.
Step 2: Engage the Learner (POW!)
To engage a learner, the educator should grab the attention of the group with what’s sometimes known as a POW! Get this right and your students will be gripped in anticipation of what's coming next. It could be a related game, joke, anecdote, concentration activity, story or image designed to introduce the general theme of the activity and get students interested and focused on learning more.
Be creative with this and try to build a sense or awe or surprise and then it'll pay off in the next step!
Step 3: Explore the Concept
Exploring the concept involves asking questions and introducing specific terms and concepts linked to the activity in a creative and interesting way that inspires anticipation and participation.
In addition, done with attention and a flexible teaching approach to exploring ideas related to the topic, this step can also generate fun and excitement - brilliant emotional states for transformative learning to take place!
Step 4: Explain the Activity
Now the group is primed and ready for the main activity! Explain the instructions and logistics of the task you've planned. Teacher expectations, boundaries and student questions or concerns should also be outlined and addressed in this step.
Activity:Ensure that the group is ready to complete the experiential task you outlined for them and go ahead and facilitate your activity. Facilitators must be ready to provide additional guidance as required, answer questions and pay attention to safety and discipline issues throughout the activity.
Step 5: Elaborate on the Concept
This is a creative way to assess student understanding and ensure your general learner outcomes have been achieved. This can be done in various forms including a skit, game, poster or presentation which gets students to actively engage with key ideas and connections related to the activity topic.
This is a great opportunity to get your students to work within teams and be creative!
Step 6: Evaluate
This is the post activity wrap up or debriefing session. It should be facilitated by the educator and guided by the students. It’s the time to draw out conclusions, engage in discussion, gather feedback and guide students to join the dots and relate what they’ve learned to their own lives (or the "real-world").
Example questions might include “Why is the issue of recycling important?” and “How can we use our new knowledge in our own lives?”
Step 7: Extend
It's important to practice the transfer of knowledge and skills in new contexts as this helps promote deeper learning and develop transferable knowledge and skills through making connections and inspiring more reflection. Excellent examples are art projects, PowerPoint presentations and journal entries.
And that’s it! The 7E Model can be applied to a wide range of lessons, topics and classroom subjects both inside and outside the classroom. It supports learning by following a structured methodology and encouraging student engagement.
Make use of the 7E Model whenever you want to facilitate a lesson with impact and you’ll always have a structured approach, designed to maximize your learner outcomes and accelerate learning!
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