George Lucas Educational Foundation

60-Second Strategy: Participation Spinner

This simple technique can help ease students’ anxiety about sharing out in class—and make it more fun.

July 21, 2023

When teacher Nicole Bolduc, of Ellington, Connecticut, wanted more kids to engage and speak up in her middle school science classes, she decided to get random. First, she taped playing cards to the desks of each seating group of four students, and then she created a laminated spinner with the four card suits’ symbols drawn on it. Each time she prompted her class to answer a question, she spun the wheel—and whether it landed on hearts, diamonds, spades, or clubs, the students with that card taped to their desk were on the hook to respond. “I was trying to figure out a way to vary who was participating in the classroom because some students are very reluctant to share. But I didn't want to cold-call, so I began using a strategy called ‘the spinner,’” says Nicole. “It increases equity of who shares without raising the anxiety of my students.” 

For more strategies on making class participation more inclusive, check out Hoa Nguyen’s Edutopia article “How to Open Class Participation to Everyone.”

Ellington Middle School

Public, Suburban
Grades 7-8
Ellington, CT

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