Monday, May 16, 2011

Simple tools can make a big difference in the classroom!

A timer and a method for randomly calling on students by giving each student a number and then drawing a boat (with numbers on the bottom) after having asked a question.

I gave the teachers an assignment today to identify three main summary points in a text they'd read yesterday in the Reading Comprehension workshop.  They were given 30 seconds to indentify the points.  I then used my random method to call on teachers to give me the answer. 

Within a very short time, the pace of the workshop increased substancially and the anxiety level of the teachers also increased substancially!  They knew they had limited time to search for the answers and that at any point in time, any one of them could be called on for the answer!

Good pacing and keeping a certain level of student anxiety during the lesson can be a good thing ..... it keeps the lesson interesting, keeps the students on task, and it reduces classroom behavior problems.
A couple of keys to the successful use of calling on students randomly.

First.... always ask the question first, allow some "thinking" time,  and then randomly choose a student to answer.  If the student is chosen before the question is asked, all the other students will check out and not listen.  By asking the question first.... everyone knows they could be called on!

Second ..... if the teacher calls on a student and they say "I don't know" the teacher can not let that student off the hook.... or every subsequent student when asked the question will say... "I don't know!"  Instead, tell the student that you'll be coming back.... even if that means having that student repeat the correct answer given by the next student.

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