Blue Shirt Tuesday

Sunday, June 18, 2006

EDSE 500 Required Blog # 2

Cold Calling

With a class of 22, the way I handle participation is a do-or-die game. It is so easy to lose the interest of my students (to the point where I literally got 22 blank stares when I told them on Friday that we were going to play a game) that keeping them involved is essential. Calling on students serves a few purposes: 1) It lets me know if the student understands the lesson, 2) It gives the student an opportunity to talk through a problem out loud, and 3) It gives all of the other students an incentive to pay attention so that they don't sound like idiots when they get called on.

In previous classes that I've taught, I've had only 5 or 6 students, so participation was pretty easy. I had a few students who didn't want to say anything, but the small setting still allowed for each student to be called on a lot. With 22, now, I can't hear from each student each period, let alone multiple times, as I'm used to. Dr. Monroe suggested using random calling so that students are forced to be on their toes and participating actively. I haven't used her suggestion of using a stack of notecards, because I don't have enough hands to hold the cards, my lesson plan, and the dry erase marker all at the same time, but I have been calling randomly from the seating chart (apparently teachers don't call randomly when they're trying to do so on their own. I'll have to switch to the cards eventually).

I've had mixed results with my technique. Sometimes it works great. The student will know the answer, will talk us through it, and we'll move on. Sometimes it's horrible. I called on one student to come up to the board and do an example problem and he said, "I'm not going up there." He eventually did, but only after I engaged in his power struggle, taking from my authority over the classroom. I also don't feel like the students either respect or fear me enough to actually care whether I call on them when they don't know the answer. That is, the students who aren't going to be paying attention regardless of how I'm asking questions are the ones who don't mind saying "I don't know, call on someone else" when I call on them. Perhaps there is a group of students who wouldn't be paying attention if I were just asking for volunteers, but are because they don't want to be embarrassed. I still don't know my students well enough to know for sure.

I'm surprised by how commonly my teachers would ask for volunteers and ask us to raise our hands. I feel like calling on the kids who get it quickly is completely a waste of time. I don't know, I guess that calling on the kids who don't get it at all is also a waste of time.


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