Sunday, September 8, 2013

Student Engagement 101 - no hands up!

Recently I read an article about a 'no hands up'  approach to questioning in classrooms - I have instigated the method of not asking for volunteers to answer a question but to call upon students randomly - and it is working really well!

I thought I would share it with you - and it is so low tech it works well! You can also see this approach in action if you look at some of t he videos from Dylan Wiliams (UK educator) of how he engages students.
I also attended a PD session with Dr Lorraine Hammond, (ECU, WA)  who explained how she used a simple form of pop sticks for primary aged students - each pop stick has a students name in it and the teacher just selects one pop stick and directs the question to them - simple - low tech. However, with 5 secondary classes that makes about at least 150 pop sticks minimum - way too many I can't even store that many easily! So I used the random name selector app on my smart phone - or I sometimes follow Wiliams' approach for a more secondary style method of name selection! The strategy helps make all students accountable for their own learning and engagement in the lesson - and so far it is working!  

The basic premise is  - DON'T ask for volunteers - the teacher names students individually by calling on the randomly selected class participant to answer a question or demonstrate their learning or understanding about the topic being taught or discussed.

I have to say it is going well so far. My kids are much more 'evenly' engaged - they know that they may be called upon to answer a question at anytime within the lesson. This practice also seems to have lessened the usual or 'expected' students from always answering questions (you know the ones that have their hands up first and are onto it straight away - the ones we don't have to engage because they are already engaged!). It seems to help keep the more disengaged students alert and aware that at any moment their name could come up and they are expected to respond!

Trial it in your classroom (or staff meeting) and let me know how it goes!

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