Sunday, August 28, 2016

Whole Class Participation Techniques

         As this school year begins, I've been excited about how my classes have been taking shape so far.  The kids are great, and the classroom is starting to feel like community.  We're all starting to get to know each other a bit, and the kids are starting to understand my expectations.
          I read a book over the summer about total participation techniques.  I was really excited about this idea of getting every kid to answer questions, rather than just one kid.  So as I started planning for building my classroom climate, this was one of my major considerations.  I really wanted to utilize technology in a way to increase whole class participation whenever possible.  These have been the things that I've been really pleased with in the first two weeks when it comes to increasing class participation.

1. Go Formative--I was introduced to GoFormative as one of the sessions at Space Camp this summer and thought it had potential.  I tried it last week and loved it!  I have used online quizzes on Google forms or quia, but what is different about Go Formative is that you are seeing data real-time (not just when kids finish).  And not only can you see it real-time, you can send kids individual feedback, and they can make corrections based on the feedback you sent them.  So here was a sample question:
save image
The answer I was wanting was that students disagreed, because the numbers were not in order.

Here is an example interaction between one student and myself.

The student's initial response (which you can't see because he fixed it) was "agree", so I sent him the first message about "What do you do first?"  This helped him realize the numbers weren't ordered, and he then changed his answer simple to "disagree".  However, I also wanted students to justify their answer, so I sent the second message about "Why do you disagree?", leading to his final response.
            I was impressed with how powerful these interactions were, and look forward to using this tool more in my classroom!

2.  Desmos--I have written before about being a big fan of Desmos, but this week as I used it as a way to encourage whole class participation and formative assessment.  We were doing one of my favorite lessons, one about students who are going into business together.  My class has to analyze the business plans in terms of how much money each partner initially has, and how much they save each week.  It's a great activity to teach distributive property, combining like terms,  and the appearance of linear functions with positive/negative slope.  I have always loved this lesson, but Desmos added something to it.  We did most of the lesson on paper, and then I used just a few Desmos questions for real-time formative assessment.
save image
You can see here the responses of just a few of my students to a question that asked them to look at a graph and identify which person it represented.  I loved being able to quickly show several different strategies for determining whose graph it was, while highlighting student work.  It was fantastic!

3.  Response Cards--This was my low-tech whole class participation technique...but still effective.  We were having a debate about a question I had on the board, so I had students take out the "agree, disgree, or not sure" cards. I was able to get a quick feel for the mood of the class, as well as who might present arguments for each side to further our discussion.  Quick, easy method for formative assessment!  (You can get these response cards free at Teachers Pay Teacher, by the way)

4.  Google Questions on classroom--I really enjoyed using the question function on Google Classroom.  I played a video which showed a visual representation of mean, and then asked students to respond as a Google Question whether they thought the video represented mean, median or mode.  Again, quick, easy formative assessment.  Some classes got it right away, and that was great.  Other classes were split down the middle at first, but after viewing the responses in the question, every class quickly concluded that is was mean.
save image
The whole interaction probably only took 10 minutes, and it was extremely effective!

5.  Kahoot--This is certainly not a new one to me, as I used Kahoot frequently last year as well.  This year, I'm trying to refine a few things about Kahoot.  A couple of things I'm planning to incorporate in my Kahoots this year are spiraling review and trivia. I want to add just a couple of spiral review questions to every Kahoot, just to keep skills sharp.  And the trivia is just for fun...the kids love knowing that every now and then I'll throw in something random just for fun!
       I also love to use Kahoot to teach error analysis, and trying to get the kids to figure out what error had to be made to get the incorrect answers.