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ELT Professional

Thanks so much for this

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Thanks so much for this wonderful article!

- Joshua Durey
www.eltonline.org

Community Manager at Edutopia

Jennifer, that's a great

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Jennifer, that's a great observation. I've noticed the "fisheye" effect too but never quite articulated it. Thank you for sharing.

Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy

Maddie, this is an excellent

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Maddie, this is an excellent list of ideas, and the other suggestions that have been added in the comments are effective, too. I am a huge fan of think-pair share, and have often added an extra step (think-WRITE-pair-share), where students write their own answer down first before discussing it with a partner -- this builds in a little more independent thought time. I also love the Estimation Line-Ups (we called this Human Barometer!) because they force everyone to take a stand somewhere. I've never heard of snowball to avalanche and really want to try it!

What I've noticed is that a lot of teachers don't even realize that they have a disproportionate number of students who don't participate, or they don't realize the impact this dynamic can have on those quiet students, day after day. I call this phenomenon "fisheye teaching" -- the tendency to view our classes as if we're looking through a peep-hole: some just take up more "room" than others, distorting our perception and making us believe we're engaging with more students than we actually are. I wrote about this in my most recent post, which you can read here: www.cultofpedagogy.com/fisheye/.

Thanks for a useful article!

Elementary teacher from Atlanta, GA

Wow! What great suggestions!

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Wow! What great suggestions! When I read the avg teacher waits 1.5 seconds, I mentally went through in my mind how many seconds I wait and 1.5 seconds was pretty close! I can't wait to get back in my classroom to try 3 seconds and determine if there is a big difference in responses!

6th grade language arts teacher

I found these tips to be

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I found these tips to be helpful. I really like to use pair share in my room. I also have conditioned myself to use the wait time. For my special education students, I really like frontloading and giving them the questions ahead of time. Thanks for the great refresher!

6th grade English teacher

Thanks for this post; as a

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Thanks for this post; as a relatively new teacher, this is really helpful. I've used some of these strategies, like the three second wait. I also find it helpful to repeat the question slowly, giving them another chance to absorb it if they missed it the first time around. Other times I'll ask the question, call on a student, and then repeat the question after I've called on them. It gives them some time to calm down after being called on, and to articulate a better answer. I like the idea of using prepared questions; I haven't used it before, but I can see how it would be a valuable learning tool for students, but also a valuable teaching tool. Depending on how far in advance you give the question and what kind of preparation you want, the student who prepares the question can provide instruction for the rest of the class through their response.

Third Grade Teacher From Missouri

Other Ideas

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Being a first year teacher I found these ideas very helpful. I would like to add a couple more to the list. I teach a writing class and students love to share their work with each other. In order to do this we use talking sticks. I put them in groups of 6-8 depending on how much time I have. Each student gets two talking sticks (popsicle sticks). They use one stick to read their story and one stick to comment on someone else's writing in the group. The students can only talk when they lay a stick in the center of the circle. No more than one person can comment on the story. This way everyone has a chance to read their story and everyone gets a positive comment from their peers. This has helped my shy students.
Another thing I do is give each student a set of 4 cards. They have one for each A, B, C, and D. I then put questions on my Smartboard and they have to hold up the letter of the correct answer. This makes everyone participate and I am able to see who is struggling in what area.

Adult Educator

I found your ideas to engage

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I found your ideas to engage students very practical and easy to implement. They are very similar to the practices I use to engage my adult learners. I particular like the advantages you listed when we wait just a few extra seconds for our learners to answer questions. As a learner, it often takes me a few seconds to gather my thoughts and to prepare an answer. I find it frustrating when the teacher jumps in and answers the question before I have a chance to share mine. I also like the idea you mentioned about giving your students choice questions. Adults like to make choices when it comes to their learning. Giving them a choice allows them to have some control over their learning, which makes it more significant to them.

Middle School Special Education Teacher

As a special education

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As a special education teacher, this article addresses one of my biggest pet peeves in the regular or collaborative classroom. So often my students are more than capable of getting the correct the correct answer, but just take a little more processing time. So often if the students are not prepared to answer immediately, they are skipped over or reprimanded by other teachers for not being prepared. These strategies are a great way to combat this issues, and have my students gain some confidence in the regular classroom. A couple of those were new to me and I will certainly share with my colleagues.

The Fishbowl

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Also, one of the techniques I was lucky enough to experience while I was student teaching was the "fishbowl." This discussion format is wonderful for upper elementary and older and is appropriate for extended discussion questions.

You arrange the desks so that there are 4-5 facing each other in a small group in the center of the room with all others in a circle around the outside. Students are chosen to go into the "fishbowl" in the middle, and discuss an open-ended question or topic. Sometimes one of the students is chosen to be discussion facilitator; but often students just use body-language cues about when to speak. Only students in the center are allowed to speak; everyone else in the room is quiet and listening and/or taking notes.

The teacher is not part of the discussion and only speaks when asking the intial question or starting a new thread or when intervening if students say something off-topic or inappropriate. The students are really discussing between themselves. (Frequently the students had to get used to addressing each other at first and not the teacher; but soon they got into deep worthwhile conversations.)

When I experienced this, the students all took turns being in the center over the course of multiple days as they discussed a class novel; and when the teacher determined that the students in the center had exhausted everything they wanted to say, she went around the room to the people seated around the edge to see what, if anything the rest of the students had to add (and the students in the center had to stay silent); but I have also come across descriptions whereby students who want to say something go into the fishbowl and tap the shoulder of someone who has already contributed something meaningful to the conversation.

The following YouTube video is a pretty good example from middle school: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwxnBv-dNBI

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