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15 Innovative Teaching Methods with Guide and Examples

15 Innovative Teaching Methods with Guide and Examples

Education

Ellie Tran 27 Apr 2022 12 min read

Imagine staying in a boring class with the voice of teachers echoing in your ears, trying to lift your eyelids to pay attention to what they are saying. Not the best scenario for any class, right?

Nowadays, many teachers are trying to keep their classes as far as possible from that scenario and let their students get more involved in learning by finding different approaches to teaching them.

The education field is changing at such a fast pace that you need to keep up and adapt to the more modern strategies, otherwise it may be hard for you to fit in.

It’s time to get innovative! These 15 innovative teaching methods will make your lessons more enjoyable and appealing for everyone. Check them out below!

What are innovative teaching methods?

Innovative teaching methods aren’t just about using the most cutting-edge technology in class or constantly catching up with the latest education trends.

They’re all about using new teaching strategies that focus more on students. These innovative ones aim at encouraging students to join proactively and interact with their classmates and you – the teacher – during lessons. Students will have to work more, but in a way that meets their needs better and can help them grow faster.

Unlike traditional teaching, which mainly focuses on how much knowledge you can pass on to your students, innovative ways of teaching dig deep into what students truly take away from what you’re teaching during lectures.

Why it’s time for innovative teaching methods

The whole world has seen a shift from brick-and-mortar classrooms to online ones, and then to hybrid learning. However, staring at laptop screens means it’s easier for students to be lost and do something else (maybe chasing sweet dreams in their beds) while honing nothing but their skills in pretending to concentrate.

We can’t blame it all on those students for not studying hard, it’s also the teacher’s responsibility not to give dull and dry lessons that make students fed up.

Many schools, teachers and trainers have been trying innovative teaching strategies in the new normal to keep students interested and engaged more. And digital programs have helped them reach out to students’ minds and give students better access to classes.

Still skeptical?… Well, check these stats out…

In 2021:

  • 57% of all US students had their digital tools.
  • 75% of US schools had a plan to go virtual entirely.
  • Education platforms took up 40% of student device usage.
  • The use of remote management apps for educational purposes increased by 87%.
  • There is an increase of 141% in the use of collaboration apps.
  • 80% of schools and universities in the US had bought or tended to buy additional technology tools for students.

By the end of 2020:

  • 98% of universities had their classes taught online.

Source: Think Impact

These stats show a huge change in the way people teach and learn. Best heed them – you don’t want to be an old hat and fall behind with your teaching methods, right?

7 benefits of innovative teaching methods

Here are 7 of what these innovations can do good for students and why they’re worth a try.

  1. Encourage research – Innovative approaches to learning encourage students to explore and discover new things and tools to broaden their minds.
  2. Improve problem-solving and critical thinking skills – Creative teaching methods allow students to learn at their own pace and challenge them to brainstorm new ways to address a problem instead of finding answers already written in textbooks.
  3. Avoid receiving a lot of knowledge at once – Teachers using new approaches still give students information, but they tend to split it up into smaller parts. Digesting info can now be easier, and keeping things short helps students get the basics faster.
  4. Adopt more soft skills – Students have to use more complex tools in class to finish their work, which helps them learn new things and spark their creativity. Also, when doing individual or group projects, students know how to manage their time, prioritise tasks, communicate, work with others better, and so much more.
  5. Check students’ understanding – Grades and exams can say something, but not everything about a student’s learning capacity and knowledge (especially if there are sneaky peeks during tests!). Innovative teaching ideas let teachers monitor classes and better know what their students struggle with to find the most suitable solutions.
  6. Improve self-evaluation – With great methods from teachers, students can understand what they’ve learnt and what they’re missing. By finding out what they still need to know by themselves, they can understand why to learn particular things, and consequently become more eager to do it.
  7. Enliven classrooms – Don’t let your classrooms be full of your voice or awkward silence. Innovative teaching methods give students something different to get excited about, which encourages them to speak up and interact more.

15 Innovative teaching methods

1. Interactive lessons

One-way lessons are very traditional and sometimes exhausting for both you and your students, so create an environment where students feel encouraged to speak up and express their ideas.

Students can join in-class activities in many ways, not just by raising their hands or being called out to answer. These days, you can find online platforms that help you make interactive classroom activities to save heaps of time and get all students joining instead of just two or three.

🌟 Interactive lesson example

Get all your class pumped up by playing live quizzes and games with spinner wheels, or even through word clouds, polls or brainstorming together. You can have all your students participate in those exciting activities with the help of some online platforms.

Not only that, but students can type or choose answers anonymously instead of raising their hands. This makes them more confident to get involved, express their opinions and no longer worry about being ‘wrong’ or judged.

Looking to try interaction? AhaSlides has all these features in store for you and your students!

People playing quiz on AhaSlides during an interactive lesson

2. Using virtual reality technology

Enter a whole new world right inside your classroom with virtual reality technology. Like sitting in a 3D cinema or playing VR games, your students can immerse themselves in different spaces and interact with ‘real’ objects instead of seeing things on flat screens.

Now your class can travel to another country in seconds, go outer space to explore our milky way, or learn about the Jurassic era with dinosaurs standing just meters away.

VR technology may be costly, but the way it can turn any of your lessons into a blast and wow all students definitely makes it worth the price.

🌟 Teaching with virtual reality technology example

It looks fun, but how do teachers teach with VR technology for real? Watch this video of a VR session by Tablet Academy.

3. Using AI in education

AI assists us in doing so much of our work, so who says we can’t use it in education? Actually, this method is surprisingly widespread these days.

Using AI doesn’t mean it does everything and totally replaces you. It’s not like in the sci-fi movies where computers and robots move around and teach our students (or brainwash them).

It helps lecturers like you reduce their workload, personalise courses and instruct students more efficiently. Many familiar things you are probably using, such as LMS, plagiarism detection, automatic scoring and assessment, are all AI products.

So far, AI has proved it brings about lots of benefits for teachers, and the scenarios of it invading the education field or Earth are the stuff of movies only.

🌟 Using AI in education example

  • Course management
  • Assessment
  • Adaptive learning
  • Parent-Teacher communication
  • Audio/visual aids

Read over 40 more examples here.

4. Blended learning

Blended learning is a method that combines both traditional in-class training and high-tech online teaching. It gives you and your students more flexibility to create effective studying environments and customise learning experiences.

In such a technology-driven world we’re living in, it’s hard to neglect powerful tools like the internet or e-learning software. Things like video meetings for teachers and students, LMS to manage courses, online sites to interact and play, and many apps serving studying purposes have taken the world.

🌟 Blended learning example

When schools reopened and students got to join offline classes, it was still great to have some help from digital tools to make the lessons more engaging.

AhaSlides is a great tool for blended learning which engages students in both face-to-face and virtual classrooms. Your students can join quizzes, games, brainstorming and many class activities together on this platform.

Engage better with your students


Get your students involved more in fun activities during both online and offline lessons.

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English Language Lesson
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Brainstorm Ideas for School
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Class Spinner Wheel Games

5. 3D printing

3D printing makes your lessons more fun and gives students hands-on experience to learn new things better. This method takes classroom engagement to a new level to which textbooks can’t ever compare.

3D printing gives your students real-world understanding and ignites their imaginations. Studying is much easier when students can hold organ models in their hands to learn about the human body or see models of famous buildings and explore their structures.

🌟 3D printing example

Below are many more ideas for using 3D printing in many subjects to excite your curious students.

Picture of 3D printing ideas used as innovative teaching methods
Image courtesy of Teach Thought.

6. Use the design-thinking process

This one is a solution-based strategy to solve problems, collaborate and spark students’ creativity. There are five stages, but it’s different from other methods because you don’t have to follow a step-by-step guide or any order. It’s a non-linear process, so you can customise it based on your lectures and activities.

illustration of 5 stages in design thinking process for schools
Image courtesy of Makers Empire.

The five stages are:

  • Empathise – Develop empathy, and find out the needs for the solutions.
  • Define – Define issues and the potential of addressing them.
  • Ideate – Think and generate new, creative ideas.
  • Prototype – Make a draft or sample of the solutions to explore the ideas further.
  • Test – Test the solutions, evaluate and gather feedback.

🌟 Design-thinking process example

Want to see how it goes in a real class? Here’s how K-8 students at Design 39 Campus work with this framework.

7. Project-based learning

Working on projects at the end of a unit is something all students do. Project-based learning also revolves around projects, but it allows students to solve real-world issues and come up with new solutions over a longer period of time.

PBL makes classes more fun and engaging while students learn new content and develop skills, like researching, working independently and with others, critical thinking, etc.

In this active learning method, you work as a guide, and your students take charge of their own learning journey. Studying this way can lead to better engagement and understanding, spark their creativity and promote lifelong learning.

🌟 Project-based learning examples

Check out the list of ideas below for more inspiration!

  • Film a documentary on a social issue in your community.
  • Plan/organise a school party or activity.
  • Create and manage a social media account for a specific purpose.
  • Artfully illustrate and analyse the cause-effect-solution of a social problem (i.e. overpopulation and the housing shortage in big cities).
  • Help local fashion brands go carbon neutral.

Find more ideas here.

8. Inquiry-based learning

Inquiry-based learning is also a kind of active learning. Instead of giving a lecture, you start the lesson by providing questions, problems or scenarios. It also includes problem-based learning and doesn’t rely much on you; in this case, you’re more likely to be a facilitator rather than a lecturer.

Students need to do some research on the topic independently or with a group (it’s up to you) to find an answer. This method helps them develop problem-solving and researching skills a lot.

🌟 Inquiry-based learning examples

Try challenging students to…

  • Find solutions to air/water/noise/light pollution in a particular area.
  • Grow a plant (mung beans are the easiest) and find out what the best growing conditions are.
  • Investigate/confirm a provided answer to a question (for example a policy/rule already applied in your school to prevent bullying).
  • Form their own questions, find methods to solve and work on addressing those issues.

9. Jigsaw

The jigsaw puzzle is an ordinary game that we bet each of us has played at least once in our lifetime. Similar things happen in class if you try the jigsaw technique.

Here’s how:

  • Divide your students into small groups.
  • Give each group a subtopic or subcategory of the main topic.
  • Instruct them to explore the given ones and develop their ideas.
  • Each group shares their findings to form a big picture, which is all knowledge on the topic that they need to know.
  • (Optional) Host a feedback session for your students to evaluate and comment on other groups’ work.

If your class has experienced enough teamwork, break down the topic into smaller pieces of information. This way, you can assign each piece to a student and let them work individually before teaching their classmates what they’ve found.

🌟 Jigsaw examples

  • ESL jigsaw activity – Give your class a concept such as ‘weather’. The groups need to find a set of adjectives to talk about seasons, collocation to describe nice/bad weather or how the weather improves, and sentences written about the weather in some books.
  • Biography jigsaw activity – Choose a public figure or a fictional character in a particular field and ask your students to find more info about that one. For example, they can research Isaac Newton to unearth his basic information, as well as notable events in his childhood and middle years (including the famous apple incident) and his legacy.
  • History jigsaw activity – Students read texts about a historical event, i.e. World War II and gather information to understand more about it. Subtopics can be prominent political figures, main combatants, causes, timelines, pre-war events or declaration of war, course of the war, etc.

10. Cloud computing teaching

The term can be strange, but the method itself is familiar to most teachers. Basically, it’s a way to connect teachers and students and allow them to access classes and materials from thousands of miles away.

It has a lot of potential for all institutions and educators. This method is easy to use and cost-saving, secures your data, allows students to have distance learning, and more.

It’s a little different from online learning in that it requires no interaction between lecturers and learners, which means that your students can learn anytime and anywhere they want to finish the courses.

🌟 Cloud computing example

Here’s the Cloud Computing Fundamentals Training Library from Cloud Academy to let you know what a cloud-based platform looks like and how it can facilitate your teaching.

gif of Cloud Computing Fundamentals Training Library from Cloud Academy
Image courtesy of Cloud Academy.

11. Flipped classroom

Flip the process a little bit for a more exciting and effective learning experience. Before classes, students need to watch videos, read materials or research to have some basic understanding and knowledge. Class time is devoted to doing the so-called ‘homework’ typically done after class, as well as group discussions, debates or other student-led activities.

This strategy centres around students and can help teachers better plan personalised learning and evaluate students’ performance.

🌟 Flipped classroom example

Wanna know how a flipped classroom looks and takes place in real life? Check out this video by McGraw Hill about their flipped class.

12. Peer teaching

This one’s pretty similar to what we’ve talked about in the jigsaw technique. Students understand and master knowledge better when they’re able to explain it clearly. When presenting, they might learn by heart beforehand and speak aloud what they remember, but to teach their peers, they must understand the problem thoroughly.

Students can take the lead in this activity by choosing their area of interest within the subject. Giving students this kind of autonomy helps them to develop a feeling of ownership of the subject and the responsibility to teach it right.

You’ll also find that giving students the chance to teach their classmates boosts their confidence, encourages independent study, and improves presentation skills.

🌟 Peer teaching example

Watch this video of a real, dynamic maths lesson taught by a young student at Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design!

13. Peer Feedback

Innovative teaching approaches are so much more than teaching or learning within the class. You can apply them in many other areas, such as peer feedback time after a lesson.

Providing and receiving constructive feedback with an open mind and appropriate manners are essential skills students need to learn. Help your class by teaching them how to give their classmates more meaningful comments (like using a feedback rubric) and make it a routine.

Interactive polling tools, especially those with live word cloud features, make it easy to do a quick peer feedback session. After that, you can also ask students to explain their comments or respond to the feedback they receive.

🌟 Peer feedback example

Use short, simple questions and let your students freely say what’s on their minds in sentences, a few words or even emojis.

image of using AhaSlides word cloud for a peer feedback session after a lesson

14. Crossover teaching

Do you remember how excited you were when your class went to a museum, exhibition, or field trip? It’s always a blast to go outside and do something different from looking at the board in a classroom.

Crossover teaching combines the experience of learning in both the classroom and a place outside. Explore concepts in school together, then arrange a visit to a particular place where you can demonstrate how that concept works in a real setting.

It would be even more effective to further develop the lesson by hosting discussions or assigning group work in class after the trip.

🌟 Virtual crossover teaching example

Sometimes, going outside isn’t always possible, but there are ways around that. Check out the virtual Museum of Modern Art tour with Mrs Gauthier from Southfield School Art.

15. Personalised learning

While a strategy works for some students, it may not be that effective for another group. For example, group activities are great for extroverted ones, but they can be nightmares for super introverted students.

This method tailors the learning process of every student. Although taking more time to plan and prepare, it helps students learn based on their interests, needs, strengths and weaknesses to achieve better results.

Each student’s learning journey can be different, but the ultimate goal remains the same; to acquire knowledge that equips that student for their own future life.

🌟 Personalised learning example

Some digital tools help you plan faster and more conveniently; try BookWidgets to facilitate your teaching.

Image of 2 personalised learning plans for students on BookWidgets
Image courtesy of BookWidgets.

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