Providing guided notes with questions – providing students with a skeletal outline of lecture notes that they can fill in allows for more engagement and gives students a clue as to what to focus on. Pair this skeletal outline with key questions for students to consider. Students can either write down their answers at different moments during your lecture or do a “turn and talk” and discuss their answers with a peer sitting next to them.

Cornell Notes with turn and talks – You can also teach students how to do cornell notes and then integrate their notes into class activities and discussions. For example, you can pause during lecture for students to fill out the question column and quiz each other.

Prediction activities – Having students predict what content will be covered or what the readings will be about is a powerful way to activate their learning. When students predict, they activate prior knowledge about the subject matter and prepare their brains for knowledge to be stored, connected and retrieved (Ogan et. al., 2009). Prediction helps the information they learn stick. Prediction activities are simple. Here are some ideas:

  • Predict what content will be covered before, during or after lecture
  • Pause, predict, ponder – have students pause at different points while they read a class text together or listen to lecture, have them predict what will happen, have them read the results or listen to the rest of lecture and then discuss whether or not they predicted correctly with a partner
  • Word scramble – scramble the headline from a news article, book chapter title or journal article title and have students unscramble the words in order to predict what the content will be about.

Classroom Polling – Have students answer brief questions throughout lecture to check for understanding. You can use clickers or a website like to electronically receive student answers.