The Active Learning Classroom: Hashtags and Highfives

Hi guys,

Here is a look at an awesome learning activity that I created for teachers, instructors, and professors who look for innovative ways to teach their material. I am not the biggest fan of lecture (neither are my students, lol,) so active learning strategies are a big hit for me! With this activity, you will engage every learning style in your classroom AND use almost NO money to complete it! Now, that…that is a win! Here is what you will need:

-a dry erase board or a chalkboard

-dry erase markers or chalk

-post-it notes

-permanent marker

-music (optional)

Now, here is how you play:

  1. Find your topic. For example, I taught the nursing students at my school about sensory disorders. This includes disease processes like cataracts, glaucoma, Meniere’s disease, etc.
  2. Choose your categories about that topic. I chose 5 categories and some of those are listed in the example above.
  3. Ask yourself what you really want the students to know about your categories. I really wanted my students to understand the signs and symptoms of the disease processes and nursing interventions. This is how you will come up with your hashtags!
  4. Find popular hashtags that correspond with what you want the students to know about the categories. For example, I wanted my students to know that a common symptom of glaucoma is seeing halos around lights. So, I wrote #ICanSeeYourHalo (thanks, Beyoncé!) on a post-it note. The students had to know this information to place the post-it note under the right category. Write your hashtags on post-it notes using the permanent marker (darker colors for visibility,) 1 tag per note. The number of notes you make is up to you!
  5. Write your categories on the board. Leave enough space between each category for the students to place their post-it notes.
  6. Break your class into 2 or more teams. We have double boards in our classroom, so I made duplicate copies of this activity for each side of the room. This way, each team has their own space to work.
  7. Clear some space and tell the teams to line up relay-style. When you say go, the first student from each team will find a hashtag they think they know and place it under the appropriate category. They then will high-five their next team-mate who will repeat this action. The game continues until all hashtags are placed. The instructor will look over the placement and if all items are correct, the team who finishes first will be declared the winner. However, if any hashtags are misplaced, the group must then work together to place them correctly. The first team to place all their hashtags correctly wins!

We had great success with this learning activity. Not only is it fun and engaging, but it reinforces critical thinking, which is a MUST in nursing education! I would love to know your thoughts about this activity and what results you get from trying it! Please leave a comment below or email me at

Here is to active learning,