We’ve all heard of the traditional can o’ popsicle sticks used to randomly call students to answer or share. Here’s a twist on this method to encourage participation in discussions from all your students.
Here’s how it works:
-Before each lesson (small group works best), give each student a select number of popsicle sticks. One or two for large groups, more for students in groups that are smaller. Just make sure that for the amount of sticks you hand out, you’ve got that many questions to ask!
-Introduce it to your students. It might sound something like this, “We are a community of learners so we can learn from one another. I want us all to have an opportunity to answer, discuss, and share so we’re going to use these sticks to make sure we all have an opportunity to participate. When you answer a question, make a comment, etc. you will give me your stick (or put it in the jar). Even if you blurt out, you still have to give up a stick. By the end of the lesson, we want to hear from everyone so no one should have any sticks left.”
-As you ask a question or open the floor for discussion, students give you a stick to answer. Students who are eager to answer or share (and probably dominate a lot of discussions) will soon be out of popsicle sticks leaving room for others to participate and for them to listen. Students who are reluctant to participate will be encouraged to use their sticks.
-Scaffold your questions so all students can use their sticks to participate with confidence!
Give it a try in your class and let us know how it goes!