This post is about the practicalities of getting all students in your class to participate. There are some ideological arguments around ‘forcing’ students to speak in class. The argument about whether introverted students should be made to speak in class was debated some time ago on our Facebook page. We’ll leave that debate for now, but if you are interested please feel free to add your thoughts at the link.
Ultimately, it is the teacher who must build a supportive classroom environment so that all students feel safe and comfortable to speak up, and to risk making a mistake but know that that’s all part of the learning journey. But no matter how well we build our students’ confidence, regardless of the strategies we put in place to encourage student participation, there will always be those who put their hand up every time, those who cower in the corner and avoid eye contact hoping you won’t pick them, and then there are those – perhaps the majority – who don’t mind being chosen, but who aren’t going to go out of their way to volunteer.
So, here are a few simple tools for selecting students. I’d love to hear your ideas.
Random name selector apps
These apps are great tools for teachers, particularly if you can project it onto a screen for students to see. With the click of a button students will be randomly selected. Some allow you to also create random groupings of students, and some allow you to ‘assess’ each students response, generally on a simple right/wrong scale. Some incur a fee, while others are free, so look into what suits you. Here are a list of a couple, though I’m not in a position to recommend or endorse any 🙂
for Android, try
Random Student Picker
Random name selectors for download
If you don’t have a tablet, don’t despair – there are some great applications available that you can download and use from your computer. This has the added benefit of not needing an internet connection if your server is down or slow.
Random name selectors online
Another option if you don’t want to download files is to use an online application. The issue is that generally you will need to input your class lists each time, although this needn’t be arduous if you keep your class lists in a document that can be simply copied and pasted at the start of a lesson. Ideal if it’s not something you want to do every lesson, or if you want to try out different applications.
Person selector simple online application
Pokie pair generator generates pairs of students from your pasted list
Random student generator with cartoon people – a bit too slow for me
Instant classroom requires you to login (free), but your class lists will be saved. Also has seating plan and group generator.
Class Management systems
These systems do more than just select random students – but they do include random name and group generators . They also allow you to collect information about behaviour, keep scores, take attendance, etc.
Cup and sticks Version 2.1
In the age of apps and gadgets you might be laughing at my out-dated ‘cup and sticks’ technique – but these are a must in my classrooms. Particularly for reading circles when I need to make sure all students get a turn, and I want something quick, and can walk around the room with them. Cheap, simple, and works even when the network is down or the power goes out (and this does happen out here in the ‘country’).
Mega Prize wheel
This spinning prize wheel was made by our lovely facilities manager, who is always willing to help out with projects. This wheel is a favourite with students, so much so that no one seems to mind if they get picked. It takes up a bit of time, and leads to some excitement, so it’s not used for everyday tasks but is a great tool in moderation. Numbers on the wheel match numbers on students’ desks, so it can be used with all classes.
*How do you select students?
*Have any great apps or online applications to share?
*Got some old-school techniques that your students love?
Add to the discussion in the comments below, or in our Facebook comments.
Thanks to the following awesome teachers for sharing their ideas and adding to the list:
Joe Dale (@joedale)