4.1 Support Student Participation
How to Support Student Participation
If you find yourself calling on the same few students every day, you probably need to get more students participating. Start by making your students feel comfortable around each other and in the classroom. Switch up your teaching style to help students find a teaching method that speaks to them. Then include interactive technology so even your most shy students engage with the rest of the class.
Fostering a Sense of Belonging
Set up the classroom so you can move chairs around.Ensure that the classroom has a chair for each student and place the chairs so you can easily group or move them. For example, if you'll ask the students to gather together for discussion, arrange the chairs so they're in a circle or a horseshoe shape.
- If the chairs are attached to desks, decide if you want to group several desks together to make small discussion groups.
Learn your students' names.If you have the opportunity, learn the students' names before school starts. Take time during the first week of school to memorize every student's name and get them to learn one another's names. Learning names is an easy way to make the students feel more comfortable in the classroom.
- To learn names, play ice breaker games that are age appropriate for your students. Consider using a seating chart until you've memorized their names.
- You can also check the school roster which might include pictures with names.
Talk with your students about their families and communities.Show your students that you care about their education and well-being by learning about them. Find out about their interests, their challenges at school, and beliefs that are important to them.
Communicate with the families of your students.Students are more likely to feel invested in school if they know you care enough to stay in touch with their families. Discuss each student's classroom participation at parent teacher conferences or include this information with report cards.
- If you're concerned about a younger student's participation, consider calling, emailing, or sending a note to the family.
Ask your students for feedback regularly.Get their opinions about what is working and what isn't. Ask them how they want to learn, as well as what they find boring. After an activity, get them to evaluate it so that you can make improvements in the future, if necessary.
- It's also a good idea to ask students what they want to learn or what topics interest them. Although you may not be able to deviate from the curriculum, you might be able to incorporate topics that interest your students so that they stay engaged with the material.
Using Effective Teaching Techniques
Make your expectations clear on the first day.Let your students know that you'll expect them to participate on a regular basis. If part of their grade depends on participation, give them clear guidelines on how to participate. For example, they may have to answer 2 questions during discussion time. You should also explain rules about respecting other students' ideas during participation times.
- For example, simple rules for younger pupils may include letting other students finish their comments and not interrupting each other. For high-school or college students, you might say that a portion of their overall grade will come from active participation.
Include small groups, lectures, and discussions.Because people learn differently, use several styles of teaching on a regular basis. You may find that some students are more involved when you're leading a question and answer session, while other students participate more in small groups.
- To get students to participate during lectures, give them plenty of opportunities to ask you questions. Consider asking older students to lead the question and answer sessions.
Use eye contact and other non-verbal cues to encourage students.Instead of standing at the front of the class and calling on the same students every time, look around the room and make eye contact with some of the quieter students. Walk around the room so they feel comfortable interacting with the rest of the class.
- Remember to smile and give the students time to think of a response. Try to leave 5 to 10 seconds before calling on someone or rephrasing your question.
Emphasize student responses.Repeat or clarify a student's response in case the class couldn't hear it. If the answer wasn't as thorough as you wanted, ask another student to build on the response. To support participation, give each student credit for their answer.
- For example, say, "Alyssa mentioned economic problems as a cause for conflict. Can anyone mention more economic causes or think of a few social issues that led to the war?"
Give students a chance to answer their own questions.Foster a sense of classroom community by asking the students to answer one another's questions. This is a great way to get discussion going for any age group and prevents question and answer sessions from turning into lectures.
- For example, if a student asks you a question, look around the room and ask if anyone thinks they know. If they don't, try prompting with another question.
- For a fun activity, break the class into groups and give them a topic to research and teach to the rest of the class.
Incorporate cold calling during lectures or class discussions.During cold calling, you randomly call on students to answer a question, read aloud, or provide their opinion. You can make the process truly random by putting students' names on popsicle sticks, then pulling a random name. To increase student comfort, you can give them the option of passing 1 question per week or asking a friend for help.
- Help students stay comfortable during cold calling by setting a supportive tone. Thank students for their responses, and offer encouragement even when students provide an incorrect response.
- Don't use cold calling during situations that students might consider "high stakes" or during a graded assignment.
Engaging Through Technology
Give quizzes on mobile devices to encourage participation.Instead of calling on 1 or 2 students to answer questions, give each student the chance to respond. Set up classroom quizzes on mobile devices that every student can use. Students may be more likely to interact if they aren't put on the spot to answer in front of the class.
- If you don't have enough mobile devices for the whole class, divide the class into groups and have them answer the quiz together.
Create an online message board for the class.If you're teaching older students, give them the chance to be part of an online discussion. Place documents or images on the board for the class to discuss and give them clear expectations about how they should participate.
- For example, put a new document on the board and tell the class that they have 2 days to read the document and answer a question about it. You may also require them to respond to 2 other students' comments.
Try a variety of interactive technology in the classroom.Since you'll have students with different learning styles, add several styles of technology and media. Avoid using programs or devices that use drills or repetition. Instead, give students the chance to use technology that allows them to create.
- For example, instead of using a tablet to simply record a drawing or geometry problem, use a program that will allow the student to code or alter the dimensions of their assignment.
- Ensure that the technology is age appropriate. Avoid using programs that are too advanced to younger kids and don't offer technology to older students if it's too simplistic.
Use technology to provide feedback for student work.Most mobile applications and online messaging boards have options for leaving feedback. Use these to respond to student discussion or give comments on projects that your students are working on. Leaving feedback will encourage your students to fulfill assignments and participate in classroom dialogue.
- For example, if you've assigned an essay to an older class, ask the students to load a proposal, outline, and rough draft. Then leave comments to guide the students through each step of the assignment.
Video: Teaching International Students: Class Participation
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