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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hands Down (OR no more hands raised)

A few days ago I receive a notice of a new required practice from my university. The mandate:

No more raising hands in class. 

It is one of the the things that will be on our observations from this point forward. I was a little upset with my last observation. I did not get marked off but I am a perfectionist. The comments irritated me. 

I was watched on who I called upon. male vs. female, race, and academic ability. I was a little upset that I was seen as biased. I called on more females than males and mostly Hispanic students. I need to diversify who I call on more I was told. 

So why does this upset me? Well lets look at the demographics of the class. 24 students. 22 are Hispanic, 1 Asian, and 1 Caucasian. There are 19 females and 5 males. Hmmmm.... I wonder why I called on mostly female Hispanic students who had a basic grasp of the English language? Could it be cuz that is pretty much the only person in the classroom? 

I will digress on this issue. So I wasn't perfect... I think I can live with it. .... or maybe not. It has been a few weeks and its still getting on my nerves. I prefer constructive criticism that is actually helpful. For example, if you had divide the class into groups before working on the timeline it wouldn't have taken an hour but the 20 minutes you planned. See... that one I like!

So what do we do about this hands down movement??

I was given a few different options to use but I would love to hear your thoughts as well. Do you have a favorite technique? Do your students still raise their hands? Here are some of the options I have received:

Shoulder Buddies
Did you know there is a toy called Shoulder Buddies??? Check this out! They are kinda cute but totally not the picture I was trying to google for. =) They come in all kinds of different colors and designs. Even holiday ones. My mind is wondering how I can use these guys!
Anyways... shoulder or elbow or knee buddies (whatever you choose to call it)... its the pair and share technique. Whenever you ask a question, you give think time and then they share with a partner. Afterwards, call on random people to share what their partner stated. This ensures they are listening and forming an answer together!

The Silent Thumb
Give think time after asking a question. If a student has an answer, they silently hold a thumb up under their chin. Then you can call on someone once at least 95% of the students have a thumb up. 

Choral Answers
Ask the question, give think time (15 seconds to one minute depending upon the question) and then say a code word (students should be given this first. Use of the same code word all year long makes this easiest) and all students respond together. If not everyone responds, ask the class to do it again!

Draw Straws
Well sticks actually. Place a students name on each stick. This works really well in conjunction with the silent thumb and then simply draw a name. NOTE: this helps intern and student teachers who may not know the names of your students and is left with the old raising the hand trick or asking for the little guy in blue... no not you the other one to answer the question. 

Wallet Answers
Okay... not actually in the letter from my university but I love this and it would be a perfect alternative!! My university actually suggests writing answers on a personal whiteboard or tablet (ha! like all of our students have their own personal tablets!) and then on the count of 3 or using the code word... show your answers. 

Sign Language
Once again.... that code word is important. Once you say it have the student show you 1, 2, or 3 fingers for choosing a multiple choice answer or using another sign to demonstrate their answer. For example, many teachers who use whole brain teaching use signs to help students memorize vocabulary. You can give a definition of the word and they can give the corresponding sign. 

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At November 30, 2012 at 4:55 PM , Blogger Kara said...

Out of curiosity, what rationale does your university give for the no hand raising rule? Is this a new trend in schools? It seems a little strange to me. But then, I teach a very different population. Many of my students struggle with impulse control and shout out answers before the others even have a chance to think about the I am working hard to require hand raising and waiting to be called on.


At November 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM , Blogger ThinkWonder Teach said...

The rationale comes from the latest research in education. The students who raise their hands tend to be the same students. The student who excels and the student who wants the attention regardless of whether or not they know the answer. The result is that some students simply never raise their hands. These students research has shown are less engaged and just simply wait for the answer to be given. If students are selected by the teacher it has shown that she chooses most often the struggling student, the shy student, or the off task student thus making answering in class a punishment and damaging their self-confidence. For this reason, research has shown that the highest engagement and most learning occur when all students have had time to think and form an answer and the opportunity to share and discuss their thoughts. In addition, taking the choice of who to call upon out of the hands of the teacher results in all students having to be prepared to be active participants in their learning.

At November 30, 2012 at 6:09 PM , Blogger D. Frideley said...

Our eval. system requires 5 different types of assessment including but not limited to thumbs up/thumbs down, 1-2-3-4 (according to a-b-c-d), verbal (again a mix of gender, race and raised vs. not raised hands), written responses, shoulder partners, think/pair/share and then the teacher calls on a few to share. This is for 1 45-min. lesson mind you. I rarely hit all 5, I try my absolute best to do 3 and if I get 5, I'm overjoyed!!! I see the benefit of it when you have those kids who love to call out or those kids who never, ever raise their hand. I know for me, I have to plan it out and put it in my plans or I don't remember to do all 5.

At November 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM , Blogger Kara said...

That makes sense - thanks for the explanation! I thought it might be something like that...but was thrown by the suggestions of other physical/gestural responses to questions, which at quick read I thought sounded essentially the same as hand raising. It is Friday evening...I wasn't reading as carefully as I usually do! lol.

I am lucky in that, with only 8 students, over the course of a particular lesson I can ask each student to respond to a question, even multiple times each, with variations for their individual response abilities (some are nonverbal, some have physical impairments, etc.). Still, I have students who shout out answers impulsively, as I said before, hence the requiring a hand raised if someone wants to volunteer to answer. I also use paint stirrers labeled with each kid's name to select responders - similar to your 'draw straws' method.


At December 2, 2012 at 6:08 PM , Blogger Charity said...

There is a "sticks" app that randomly picks students.

At December 4, 2012 at 9:43 PM , Blogger snowhite13 said...

Misty- I just found your blog today and have only read a few of your posts so far but I love how you incorporate technology into your classroom. Having the kids make avatars sounds so cool!

In regards to raising hands, I am currently a substitute teacher and it is so helpful when teachers have other systems implemented that don't require me to know every student's names. I am particularly fond of using name sticks and have used them in numerous classrooms. I think they allow students to prepare themselves to give answers and hold students accountable while also holding the teacher accountable to call on all students. I also frequently have students answer in choral, when I believe the majority should have the answer, as well as I have students show me on the fingers the answer. This seems to work especially well for math. Students seem to enjoy using their fingers to show answers, partly because it's different than normal and every hand can be seen. I really liked the idea of silent thumb and will have to use that in my classroom! Thanks for writing.

At December 29, 2012 at 6:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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