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Saturday 15 September 2018

Put your hand up! Or don't...

How many of us out there use the old hands up to answer or ask questions, take part in discussions and show understanding.  This is a practice I no longer employ in my classroom,  I hear you asking why already.  The next questions are usually what do I do?  How do you manage discussions?  Is it havoc in your room? 

The answers are no, it is not havoc or chaotic, no people do not speak over each other and the strategies I use ensure that everyone gets a fair go at being responsible for their learning.  One of the reasons why I no longer use hands up is to eliminate what I call the hitchhiker learners, you know the ones who sit back and let everyone else answer the questions or carry the discussion with little input.  There are NO hitchhikers in my classroom anymore.  The other reason I got rid of the hands up is to eliminate the competition of being chosen to speak or those students who wave their hands in your face while sitting on their knees and are seemingly about to burst if they don't get the opportunity to speak

So here are the things I do in my classroom to encourage everyone to participate and takes away the hands up strategy.

1.  Stick it to them!

I tell them ahead of time who I am going to choose to answer the questions or I use sticks with their names on them and pull them out so that everyone gets a chance to participate.  If the student doesn't give the correct answer or needs help to answer the question they can ask a friend to help them.  Then student can then come and choose a stick and that person can help them.

2.  Tag you're it!

I love using discussion in my class to explore ideas and concepts.  This is usually the time when you would find the same students contributing so to avoid this I use a tag discussion.  It works like this, students either sit in a circle or it can also work just sitting on the carpet or at tables.  I choose a student to start the discussion or share their thinking, they then tag the person next to them.  Students can add to the discussion, agree or disagree with a person who has shared their thinking.  If they aren't ready to add to the discussion they can pass the tag on but make sure they know you will be coming back to them.  This can be used in so many different ways to explore ideas stemming from questions or something as simple as saying a word that starts with a particular sound. 

3.Thumbs up!

This is pretty self explanatory and a quick and easy way to check for understanding.  Very quickly I will ask for my students to show a thumbs up or thumbs down if they think they understand a concept.  Depending on what we are exploring I might ask a student to explain their understanding.

So this is 3 easy strategies to use in your classroom to eliminate hands up in your classroom, let me know how you go!