In the Act2Learn program, students actually play the parts of a relationship about which you are teaching. If you are teaching about sonar, students play the bat, the food of the bat, and the sound waves that are sent out by the bat to find food. This is the key to the power of Act2Learn. It makes relationships within a situation clear. It is not a static representation of a concept or situation, but an active and adaptable experience.
“Act2Learn is an arts immersion technique. We act out “models” of the subject material, which creates a long-term physical memory for the students.”
When things move, we see how the interaction between the parts influences the big picture. If we act out erosion, we see that the forces of wind, rain, and temperature affect the terrain of a mountain. But, to really learn how this works, we need to see it as motion over time.
In Act2Learn, we can see the change in the mountain, how water erosion deposits sediment in new places, and how freezing breaks apart rock. Students can act all of this quite easily. Unlike a video, the teacher and students can modify the demonstration in order to answer new questions.
Why Act2Learn Works
Traditional teaching methods are like looking at a landscape on a map. However, Act2Learn is more like walking that landscape and experiencing its components. Looking at the landscape is intellectual understanding. Walking the landscape is physical understanding. Act2Learn works because it creates physical understanding.
Some subjects have an obvious physical component, such as sports, dance or music. However, other subjects, such as language arts, history, mathematics, and science, can also be taught in a physical way.
“Act2Learn works because students better remember what they actually do. We can come closer to a more complete understanding of how things work by acting them out.”
For example, students have difficulty understanding why the phases of the moon are regular and predictable. Yet, when they act out a model of the phases of the moon, it becomes clear. There is no comparison between talking about something and doing it. In this case, we can act out the relationship between the sun, the moon, and the earth to create a memorable representation of how it works.
If students are learning about the Canadian fur traders travelling across the country, teachers could talk for a long time about how they travelled, where they went, and what they did. On the other hand, they could give out that same information while having students pretend they are in a canoe. When we explore the physical experience in this way, we realize that fur traders paddled their canoes upstream for hundreds of miles. That is a hardship we only really understand when we actually get in the canoe and, in order to paddle upstream, have to paddle hard!
As another example, perhaps you cannot take students to the marsh to explore an ecosystem, but you can recreate that ecosystem in your classroom through physical modeling. Using Act2Learn, a teacher can have students be the marsh reeds, or the swamp creatures that crawl through those reeds, or the birds that swoop on the edge. Then the teacher can talk about the cause and effect that takes place in the marsh. Finally, students can act out those new interactions.
So these becomes a kinaesthetic learning experience that students would not get from reading a book about fur traders or the moon. Besides, which of these learning experiences do you think the students will be more likely to remember? The active, physical one, of course!
Act2Learn creates physical memory. This physical memory triggers memories based on other intelligences such as visual and verbal.
Act2Learn uses models that make it possible to ‘see’ things that are not normally visible. This is especially important for hard-to-visualize concepts such as electricity, space, or molecules. Because Act2Learn provides a physical representation of the curriculum, it makes it possible for us to see spatial and cause-and-effect relationships in a very concrete, meaningful way.
Act2Learn is great for English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students where abstract concepts such as magnetism or chemistry can be difficult to learn. If these children can act out concepts that traditionally rely on a good understanding of the English language, they will be more likely to learn. In Act2Learn, students who do not understand English use their bodies to learn.
“ Act2Learn not only introduces students to theatre arts, but much more importantly, it enhances all student learning by providing a methodology for kinaesthetic learning.”
Act2Learn creates a dynamic learning atmosphere. People learn best when they are involved. Humour and drama are tools that can create a richer learning experience.
Act2Learn is a powerful review method. Students love the models! The models are like games or plays, so students will ask to explore new ones and even revisit old ones.
Act2Learn is cost-effective because it provides classes with a way to physicalize any part of the curriculum without the use of equipment or manipulatives.