Posted by ecombsdev on August 10, 2015
Randomness: Keeping them on their toes!
I remember one of my first Professional Development sessions as a new teacher involved the use of the Round Robin for student participation I thought it was great, everyone gets to participate and once around I could be certain the laws of equity and fairness were obeyed. After a while, however, I found a troubling tendency occurring in my class. As I went around the room, it was almost as if I was telling the student that once they participated, simply shut down for the rest of the activity. It was even worse when I lined up groups to report out on projects. If they were last, or once they had participated, they started checking out. Knowing that they also learn a lot from each other, this really started to bug me and it was time for an experiment.
I decided to try and shake things up. As my students entered the classroom, I gave them each a number. Then, when I had an activity, I picked up some gaming dice and rolled my 30 sided die and called on a student with the corresponding number to respond. The shock on his face was very telling, he was expecting for me to go down the line again and he was caught off guard. I continued to use the dice to dictate who will participate and I discovered that whenever I rolled a double, that student had to participate again! Then, when I picked up the die I looked at my class, every eye was on me and they were very focused on who may be called on next.
I then applied this to my project teams. Instead of telling them who would be first, I simply said that on the date the project was due, I would roll for the team who would participate first! And, if I rolled your team’s number again, they would have to give a quick synopsis of the previous team’s report.
Suddenly, I was sending a different signal in my classroom, one that told them all that they are responsible for all the content in class at any time. While it took a couple of weeks for them to get used to the die, after a month, they actually started loving it! I would have a series of writing prompts on the board and on their tables they had a 6 sided die. They would have to roll for two and pick one (student choice!).
There are a lot of things you can do to randomize your activities that help your students stay focused and ready to learn. I hope these little tidbits will help you.