Over the last few years we have changed our MHF4U classroom from a space where the teacher talks and the students listen to one where the students talk and the teacher listens.
First, we rearranged the desks so students are in groups of three. Then, we created and borrowed group activities to use as vehicles for instruction. After hearing Peter Liljedahl speak, we combined these rich tasks with other changes to the classroom environment. We lined the walls with whiteboards so that every group has a vertical, non-permanent surface to work on. We also put our students in different random groups every day. These last two changes have had the greatest impact on student engagement. On the rare occasions the teacher gives direct instruction to a group of seated students, we have seen and felt the level of engagement drop from the moment they sat down.
Finally, we want to make sure we give our students varied and multiple opportunities to show their understanding in each strand, so we started spiralling through the course. This approach is supported by research conducted by Robert Bjork, the director of the UCLA Learning and Forgetting Lab. His research shows the importance of "interleaving", a process of having students focus on a range of diverse skills instead of a specific block of skills at a time like we used to do with a unit approach (see video:
This website is dedicated to sharing the activities and their organization into a spiralled course.