Calling on Students Equitably to Boost Engagement

Putting your Students on the Spot

We all have those “teacher pets” who crave attention and love to be called on in class. Often we are grateful to those students who “carry the lesson”.  Do you feel like you are always calling on the same two students? Calling on students at random is a technique that keeps all students in the class on their toes and better engaged. This makes me think of Elle Woods’s first day at law school in the movie “Legally Blonde”.  She takes out her feather boa pencil to take notes, and the professor randomly calls on her.

Being called on at random was not fun for Elle Woods, but you can make it fun for your students with some of the ideas floating around out there!

Popsicle Sticks

One way is to put your students’ names on popsicle sticks.  You pull a stick out of the cup and call on that student.  While browsing on Pinterest, I found a blog article by a teacher named Shanyn, where she describes her process for making double sided “Sharing Sticks”.  Making the sticks two different colors helps you know when you have already called on a student.

I made my sticks pink on one side and green on the other.   I start the day with all my students pink side  up.   When I pull out a stick and call on a student I put the stick back in the cup green side up.  When all the sticks are flipped green side up, I start flipping back to pink side up as I call on students throughout the day.

2013-09-26 14.12.26

I painted my sticks with Elmers Painters®, paint markers.  Using the paint markers was mess free, and they dried quickly.  I bought the sticks and the cup at the Dollar Tree.  When I did both sides front and back, I wrote my students names on the sticks with a black permanent marker.  I enjoy using these sticks because, I can make sure I am calling on all students throughout the day.

There’s an App for That!  

There are also apps that you can use to help you randomly select students.

For $1.99 you can get the Pick Me! app.

For $2.99 you can get the Stick Pick app.

For free you can get the Random Name Selector app, which is the one I personally downloaded.  I like the old fashion sticks though, because if you are already using the iPad for something else in class you don’t have to go back and forth between apps.

What are your favorite methods for calling on your students in class?