Student Participation


Encouraging the best from our young people in classroom situations can be daunting for new teachers, but the example below shows the benefit of well planned whole class teaching on full participation of the students.

In years gone by the stereotype for the classroom are groups of children with their hands up. This was usually the result of the teacher making a  statement e.g. We have been looking at structures and then asking for a response i.e. Put up your hands if you can think of any shell structures.

Despite the stereotypical media classrooms view that everyone ahs their hand up in reality;

  • Only a few will volunteer the information by putting their hands up
  • The teacher usually thanks or praises them
  • To check the rest of the class another few people will be asked and praised re. their contribution
  • This leaves a whole band of students who have said nothing and may know the answer but have not received praise.

Now we will look at a different way of answering the same question but achieving a result that means every students has had a voice. As currently snow and ice is the topic of weather conversation due to the Winter Olympics I suggest we call this idea snowballing.

The question is asked again but this time instead of hands up do the following;

  • Ask each class member to use a whiteboard or post it note to write down one idea
  • In pairs students share their ideas and come up with a  third idea ( 2 minutes is maximum time needed)
  • Join with another pair (creating  group of four) or collaborate as a table, exchange the examples and then think of a few more
  • Finally ask each group to feedback – or alternatively ask each member of the class to report back one idea from their group

This should make each child feel that they have participated and been heard and most if not all should receive praise.

There are many influences to the approach any teacher will use depending on a variety of circumstances and the topic, curriculum concept that has to be taught. Here are some examples;

  1. The motivation and behaviour of the students
  2. The complexity of the knowledge needed to be learnt
  3. The ethos developed by the teacher for that classroom i.e. is it more inquiry and thinking led or passive hands up?
  4. Cultural differences
  5. Class size
  6. Academic  and general language skills

 

 

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