Keeping all your kiddos on point is no small feat. Wandering minds and fidgety bodies can interfere with even the best laid instructional plans. Here are 10 classroom management strategies to promote full-class participation at multiple grade levels.
Classroom Management Strategies that Get Every Student Participating
Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
This is a great group response strategy for true / false and yes / no questions. It’s simple, usable from K – 12 and requires absolutely no special equipment or prep.
Laminated Index Cards
A favorite filler activity of mine to integrate basic math skills for younger grades is to create response cards using large blank index cards with the less than (<) symbol on one side and the greater than (>) symbol on the other. I laminate them for stability from year to year, and write basic math equations on the board with the appropriate symbol missing. I then ask the class to respond as a group with their individual cards. It’s a quick way to assess which students are still having trouble identifying the proper symbol to use. You could also use this technique to create true / false or yes / no answer cards. It would be a great sight word builder for ESL classrooms.
Individual Response Boards
You can use individual-sized chalkboards, white boards cut from large pieces of shower stall board, or make bargain white boards with copy paper and sheet protectors. Use appropriate writing utensils and make sure students each have an old sock to erase their boards with in between questions. Use this technique with brief math problems, multiple choice questions delivered orally and much, much more.
This can be used at any grade, whether it’s in a primary grade classroom reading the assigned poem for the week, or in a high school classroom working on a readers’ theater play with portions designed to be read chorally in group presentations. Not every reading assignment will be perfectly suited to this, but those that are provide a great opportunity to keep students on task and involved.
Oral Cloze Technique
This is similar to choral reading in that all students respond at once. However, the response is limited to a word you have left out as they follow along during a teacher read aloud of a certain passage or paragraph. Basically, it’s like a cloze worksheet without the worksheet. This works great when you need to review something quickly like directions, or introduce a key word such as a vocabulary term. I particularly like to use this technique when I want to make sure the students are involved, but find myself in a situation where it’s more appropriate for me to do the oral reading. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I feel like I’m covering all of my bases.
Delayed Student Selection
Basically, I’m speaking of asking the entire group a particular question so they all become engaged with figuring out a way to answer appropriately. Then I call on an individual student after everyone’s had a chance to figure out how they would reply. A great way to keep this fair is to select a learner from a mug full of wooden craft sticks with all student names written on them. It keeps things random and fair, without letting the students know in advance who will be called on.
Call to Action
Require all students to locate a word on a reading handout and perform a certain action on that word (circle it, underline, draw a box around it, etc.) before calling on the group or an individual to say what that word is. It’s a good idea to make the word critical to the lesson you are about to begin, such as if that word is related to a lab experiment, writing assignment parameters or a math concept review.
Students love to review for tests in game format. Break them up into small groups to compete tournament style, or have two main groups competing. Try having learners play content review games one on one with a buddy, or against a few people at once in a learning center. Here are several more ideas for test reviews that rock, including a couple of my favorites: chalkboard relay races and a review technique that uses little more than a paper bag.
Put Them in the Hot Seat
Assign study groups and have students prepare for a round table discussion where their fellow students and possibly some guest teachers ask them any number of questions related to the content material. Film it like a reality TV show and make sure everybody gets grilled.
Line Up Question and Answer
Make answering a content question a prerequisite for lining up at the door for recess, lunch, catching the bus home, etc. Do this orally or have some questions prepared ahead of time on folded papers placed in an empty bucket or bowl. Call on students randomly from your popsicle stick coffee mug management system and then choose their review question manually as well. If a student answers a question wrong they need to sit back down. Personally, I don’t like to have this be miserable for the kiddos, so if they answer the second one wrong as well, I let them get help from a friend already in line and encourage them to review more at home on their own. Math and geography flash cards are great for this activity as well, as they require absolutely no prep time and don’t cut into other lesson time when you know your students really could use the extra review time on the material in question.
What are your favorite tips for full-group participation or keeping all of the students on their toes?
Photo Credit: Rubens LP