An Introduction to Active Learning

An Introduction to Active Learning

February 3, 2023

Patty Obrzut, Assistant Director of Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Michigan

Ms. Obrzut received her Bachelors and Masters in Occupational Therapy and was recognized by Dr. Lilli Nielsen, Danish Psychologist, author, and creator of Active Learning as an expert in the theory of practice of Active Learning. Patty received permission from Dr. Nielsen in 2002 to educate and train others and is considered a premier educator of the Active Learning theory.  
Patty presented to POPDB online conference attendees for ninety minutes and in that time, she passed on much wisdom and knowledge and practical information about Active Learning.  She talked about the key components and stressed that all individuals are learners, and that Active Learning provides an opportunity for all to learn. She emphasized that the components of active learning are activity, repetition, developmental learning, reinforcement, and the limiting and appropriate responses to interruptions. Patty described the components of implementing active living as: active participation, allowing for repetition, developmentally appropriate activities, focussing on correct reinforcement and limiting or responding appropriately to distractions - and cause and effect.  Patty impressed upon us how a learner learns a new skill.  From Patty’s handout, we know that this is the Dynamic Learning Circle which has four stages: 

  • Stage 1: A child becomes aware &interested in: his/her own sensory or motor experiences, objects in the environment, people in the environment. 
  • Stage 2: A child becomes curious &interested which leads to: repetition, experimentation, exploration, imitation, establishing memories. 
  • Stage 3: A child completes learning with an activity so that it provides no more challenges and is part of the child's everyday patterns. 
  • Stage 4: A child becomes ready for new challenges which leads to new awareness, actions and activity offered at appropriate level. 

While providing theories and information on Active Learning, Patty shared and demonstrated many items and materials that could be used to implement strategies.  It was so exciting to see that fun Items found in the classroom, home, and dollar store such as beads, spoons, metal bowls, etc. are instrumental in implementation. Positional equipment such as resonance boards, little rooms and gathering drums were also discussed. Information on all these items and more can be found at the following link.
Active Learning Space