Middle School Teacher in Rural Alaska

Increasing Participation

So, I must admit that I’m becoming a bit obsessed with the Teaching Channel. Because I am the only 6th/7th grade teacher at my school I don’t often get to meet and talk with grade level peers. I get fantastic ideas from my colleagues, but I still am always looking for more ideas. The Teaching Channel has given me a wonderful window into the classrooms of colleagues across the country. I stumbled on this one today, that I love, about increasing participation. I have wanted to start implemented the “Cold Call” technique from Teach Like A Champion, but hadn’t quite figured out a way to do it. I do keep a can that has notecards with student names on them that I use for calling on students, but I think I like this method better- it will feel more random to students.  The idea is simple: tape playing cards on students’ desks. Then the teacher pulls out a playing card from his or her desk to call on students.

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This video describes how a teacher manages transitions in her classroom. With my middle school students I have the “magic word” – which is “Go.” Students aren’t allowed to move or do anything until the word “go” is stated. This teacher uses a similar idea, except that the transition word changes each day and is related to academic vocabulary. I’m always trying to find more ways to incorporate academic vocabulary in my teaching, so this is one thing I may try.

In the video she also dismisses students by groups through a grab bag quiz. To earn their way back to their seats students need to answer a quick academic question. Looked to me like a great way to transition when you don’t want all students moving at once and is also another great way to fit academics into every moment.

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