Wednesday, October 17, 2012

That's so RANDOM! Why it's important to call on different students...

Step #3 in John Seidlitz's "Seven Steps to Building a Language Rich Interactive Classroom" is:

Randomize and rotate who is called on so students of all language levels can participate.

Why is this so hard for teachers to do?  I have coached teachers who think they do this but my observations of their classroom do not support that belief with evidence.  And, yes, my name is POT and I am calling the kettle black!  
When I conduct trainings with teachers, I spend hours ahead of time planning ways to ensure that all participants actually participate and are engaged.  Yet, when the training is actually happening, I can easily succumb to the constraints of time, the pressure of the serial-hand raisers, and the stares from the reluctant participators daring me to invade their personal space.
So, yes, it's hard!  But, I don't think that means we shouldn't keep trying to refine this important area that falls into the science and craft of excellent teachers.
Here are some of my favorite ways:
  • Random Name Generator - Upload your class list to this website and use your computer or iPad to ask it to generate the next student to call on.  Really easy!
  • Popsicle Sticks - It's an oldie but a goody!  It may seem old school but it is better than not doing anything at all.  Write each of your students' names on a popsicle stick and place them all in a can.  After asking a question, allow at least 10 seconds of wait time (you want everyone forming their answer) and then draw a stick or two to ask those students to share their answers with the class.  My theory is that you should put the sticks back in the can and just shake it well.  If you take the sticks out until they are all out, your students whose sticks are out of the can might begin to tune out.
  • Note Cards - This is similar to the popsicle sticks but it adds another component.  Each student has a card with his/her name on it.  When you draw the student's card, you can also mark a code to indicate his response.  This can be helpful documentation for TELPAS rating (did they answer with one word, a short phrase or complete sentence), participation grades, and parent conferences.

I haven't tried this one yet but it looks interesting:
  • Teacher Tools - Who's Next? appDo the same one or two hands always pop up when you ask a question in your classroom? The Teacher Tools - Who's Next? app will shake things up for your class by allowing you to call on students randomly and even create randomized work groups! (description from iTunes)
Want to read more?  Here are some more articles about this topic:
According to the "Extending ELLs'..." article by Mohr and Mohr linked above, "many students new to U.S. culture and its educational system, and students who are timid or reluctant for any reason, often do not participate readily in class discussions and thereby assume a more passive role in classroom interactions."
We know that engagement promotes growth and we want our learners to grow.  As a result, we really need to hone our abilities to engage.  I would love to hear your tips for how you do this in your classroom!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join the conversation in English or español! You know you have something to say!