I love using interactive fans as a teaching tool, and I think you and your students will too! In this post, I’ll be talking about what an interactive fan is, why you should use them to promote engagement in your classroom, and the different ways they can be used. I’ll also show you the materials needed and provide a few tips for how you can create your own interactive fans.
What is an interactive fan?
An interactive fan is a three-dimensional, interactive graphic organizer made by students that provides a hands-on, kinesthetic way to organize and retain information. That’s just a teacher-jargony way of saying it’s a graphic organizer that allows students to go beyond just writing down information by also organizing it or manipulating it in some way. You may be more familiar with other 3D graphic organizers such as foldables and flipbooks, and interactive fans are very similar. If you’re never seen an interactive fan before, you can check out a few examples in my TpT store. I also have a free Hispanic Heritage and Latino Leaders Interactive Fan Sample that you can download and use with your students.
Why should you use interactive fans to promote engagement?
Graphic organizers have been shown to provide several benefits when it comes to retaining and recalling information. Since interactive fans are just 3D graphic organizers with a hands-on component, they’re supported by the research too! Here are just some of the ways they can enhance learning in your classroom. Interactive fans…
- Give students something to refer back to and review, making them perfect for study guides
- Encourage ownership of material, helping students invest in the material
- Provide a kinesthetic component, great for your hands-on learners
- Provide a visual component, great for your visual learners
- Promote long-term retention and recall of information at all grade levels
- Organize, display, and show relationships between data, making it easier for students to grasp concepts, theories, processes, facts, sequences, and ideas
- Can be used as alternative assessment tools if you’re tired of traditional quizzes and tests
- Support integration with literacy and other subjects
- Are fun and engaging for students
- Work well with interactive notebooks
- Can be used with any resource of your choice
- Can be self-paced and used for independent work
- Can be used for pretty much any topic
- Support second language acquisition since they often pair images with text
- Aid students in developing critical thinking and other higher order thinking skills
What topics can interactive fans be used for?
One of the best things about interactive fans is that they can be used for so many different topics. The possibilities are endless! For example, I’ve created interactive fans on topics as diverse as Landforms and Water Features, U.S. states and regions, Women in STEM, Charts and Graphs, the Scientific Method, and even the 5 Themes of Geography! Once you have your topic decided, it’s time to think about how you want to use interactive fans in your classroom.
How can you use interactive fans in your classroom?
The fans can be used in several ways. Some factors to consider are the grade level, subject, and topic being studied, as well as how much ownership over the assignment you want to give students.
1. Using Interactive Fans as Note-Taking Tools
A common way to use interactive fans is as a note-taking tool. For example, students can use the fans as guided notes while you provide direct instruction. Alternatively, they can use them independently as they read text or watch an instructional video on their own. When you use them as note-taking tools, it can be helpful to provide students with questions or prompts to help guide their notes.
2. Group Work
Another cool way you can use interactive fans is as a group project. In this scenario, I usually divide the fan blades between a group of students. For example, you could have students complete this interactive fan about black historical figures as an activity for Black History Month. Each student would be responsible for finding the information about their assigned figure(s). Once all of the research has been completed, students would come back together in a group and share their information with one another as they assemble the fan.
3. Self-Guided Research Project
For higher level students, you may want to provide fewer prompts, guidelines, and restrictions about the interactive fan. Students could design their own blades and decide which information is most important to include about their topic of study. One idea could be to assign students different historical decades. You or your students could be responsible for deciding the topics of their blades (politics, economics, conflict, popular culture, etc.), and students would research information related to each topic within their assigned decade.
4. Using Interactive Fans as Assessment
If you or your students are tired of traditional quizzes and tests, interactive fans make a cool alternative assessment. For example, students could complete this Bill of Rights Interactive Fan as an assessment for a unit on the amendments or U.S. Constitution. Students would demonstrate their understanding of each amendment as they complete their fan independently.
How can you or your students make interactive fans?
Just like with foldables, interactive fans can be as basic or fancy as you want to make them. On the basic end of the spectrum, you might just ask students to draw fan blade shapes on notebook paper. Alternatively, you could design your fan digitally and then just print it. I create all of my fans in PowerPoint using the built-in shapes and tools. Want to create your own interactive fan? You’re in luck, because I’ve created this editable interactive fan template to make things easier! You can download it, edit it yourself, or even have your students use the template to create their own!
What materials do you need?
No matter if you create your own or use a premade interactive fan, I recommend using a couple of specific materials. First, I highly recommend printing or drawing the fan blades on card stock. Regular paper works too, but using something thicker makes the fan more durable and easy to manipulate when creating them, using them to study, etc.
Next, you’ll need a single hole punch. If several students will be making fans at once, you may want to have several hole punches on hand. I really like this cute and colorful set!
You also need a way to connect the fan blades, and brads seem to work best. Try to choose short brads (definitely less than an inch) so the edges of the brad don’t stick out too far. If you find yourself in a pinch and don’t have access to brads, a piece of yarn or key ring could work too. But definitely use brads if you’re able to!
That’s it! You’re ready to use and create interactive fans in your own classroom! What ideas do you have for topics that might work especially well? Do you have any creative ideas I haven’t thought about for how to use them in class? Are there any fans you’d like to see in my store? I’d love to hear from you!