Saturday, February 23, 2008

Student Participation in Discussion

Most often I am finding that the same students participate in discussions or respond to questions in the classroom. One thing that I have seen in some classrooms is an action that students do when they agree with something said or were going to respond in a similar fashion. A few actions I have seen include snapping, giving two thumbs up or patting themselves on the head. I like this because it gives the students an opportunity to do something instead of blurting "I was going to say that." I believe that it demonstrates who is tracking along with the discussion and who is thinking the same thing.
I have also found that there are different ways that I would like students to respond in different situations. There are times I would like students to raise their hands. Other times I want to hear the first thing that they think by saying it spontaneously. Yet, at times I would like students to think before they respond. LouAnne Johnson recommends teaching all three of those ways in Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains. She discusses it on pages 90-92. She suggests explaining each and making a visual to display for what types of responses you expect in a discussion. I am going to implement this in my classroom.
She also talks about how beneficial wait time can be in some discussions. It is amazing the type of responses that you can hear after giving students some time to think. She states that "Students who normally didn't respond began raising their hands, and their thoughtful comments inspired deeper thinking from the quick thinkers." (pg. 92) I have found this to be true even in an early childhood classroom.

How do you get students to participate? What kind of procedures do you use for classroom discussion? Do you have any stories or comments about using thinking time before allowing students to respond?


Cathy said...

There are a couple of things I do in my classroom of second graders. One thing I started at the beginning of the year and from seeing it with Ellin Keene and Debbie Miller is having students address the speaker by using their name.

Another thing I have the kids do is cross their fingers if they have something to say. So many times, someone says something and it sparks something we want to say. And when you have more than 10 kids in a might take a time to get your thoughts out.

Another thing I have students do from seeing our writing coach model is to have the kids close their eyes and then envision what the next step is. You could use this to have them even to think about their responses. If we don't give kids time to think, why should we expect them to go deep with their thoughts? And that's what we want, right?

Thanks for always commenting over on my blog. It's always nice to know someone has read it!

Ms. Mize said...

Thank you for sharing the things that you do! I am going to use those ideas. It is nice to have ideas that have been put to the test and are successful to use in the classroom.

And you are very welcome. It is nice to know that others are reading!