Save Effort And Increase Participation When Calling On Students

What’s your method of calling on students? Does it take much effort? If it does, popsicle sticks can help!

Get some craft sticks and write a students' name on each. Your done! Now you can easily increase student participation.

Get some craft sticks and write a students’ name on each. Your done! Now you can easily increase student participation.

Here’s how it works: First, get some popsicle sticks (also called craft sticks in a hobby store) and write a student’s name on each. Put them in a cup or beaker or basket. When it’s time to call on a student, draw a random name.

Benefits:

  • Everyone’s more involved, not just the same 3-4 students who always raise their hands.
  • Random- students don’t know when they’ll be called, so they pay more attention. Random also means no one can accuse you of picking on them.
  • It’s simple, cheap, and takes little time to create; yet you can use them all year.
  • Get more balanced participation, which gives you a better idea of what students actually understand, and not just the few brave enough to offer the correct answer that no one else might have even known.
  • Livens the pace of class.
  • It has game-like feel to it- ‘Who’s name will be drawn next?’
  • One more benefit you may not notice but is really nice- having this system in place means your mind is a little more free to focus on the main points you’re trying to make.
As you draw names you can either leave them out and keep going until everyone's been called on, or put them back in each time so everyone's always a possible draw.

As you draw names you can either leave them out and keep going until everyone’s been called on, or put them back in each time so everyone’s always a possible draw.

Suggestions:

  • Make a different set of sticks for each class you have
  • If you draw a name you’d rather not call on (because they’ve already spoken in class, they’re not great readers, or you just don’t have the patience) set the stick aside and draw another.
  • You don’t have to use this system permanently; you can still call on any one at any time, and ask for hands/volunteers.
  • As you call names leave their stick laying out so you’ll draw others, causing more students to participate. Or, put sticks back in after every draw so everyone’s always in.
  • Use a different colored marker to write names for each class (black for your 1st hour, blue for your 2nd hour, and so forth). You could also use a different colored stick for each class you have.  Either way- if the a stick ends up in the wrong cup it’s easy to find.
  • Use these also for selecting students to pass out papers, or to assign new seats, or  (100 other things).

No, it’s not a perfect system, but it can improve how you call on students and simply your life. If so, keep using it!

Try it out and then let us know what other suggestions you have.

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