Craft Sticks, Playing Cards, and Student Participation
This past summer in a Getting Started Workshop, we discussed ways to balance student participation. In the Number Corner books, it suggests putting each child's name on a craft stick.
After posting a question, give students some time to think and then pull a stick out of the jar. This way, all students know that they are expected to be ready to participate at all times. If a student is unable to respond when his stick is drawn from the jar, he can say, "I don't know. Can you come back to me?" Return to him after other students have offered their ideas. By then he may have something new to contribute, or he can repeat an idea someone else has volunteered if necessary. Return the sticks to the jar so that it's possible for all students to be called upon at any time. [Number Corner Vol 1, Grade 5, p. 18]
Another teacher suggestion? Glue magnets on the back of two cans and affix them to a whiteboard, moving names from one can to the other as students share. Sticks could still be drawn from either container, but it helps the teacher to keep track of those who've had a chance to share versus those who haven't been called on at all.
Susan Morris, Math/RTI Coach at Forest Park School in Portland, Oregon, has another idea.
"I do not use craft sticks. I use a deck of playing cards with each student's name on a card PLUS one card with my name on it and another with a question mark on it. I use these to sort kids into pairs and small groups as well as to call on kids. When I draw my card I must answer. The question mark is "up for grabs." Kids get a kick out of my calling on myself!
I also let them shuffle the cards on occasion. Probability always comes up, which is fun. Oh! And if a student hesitates or cannot answer when called on (after my silent counting for wait time, of course), s/he is encouraged to call on a "Lifeline" ...another student for assistance."
Thank you, Susan, and other Getting Started participants! Have an idea to encourage balanced participation? Send it in!