In my second grade classroom, especially at the beginning of the year, my students were nervous about participating in class. Or they were too eager! I often found that a handful of students loved to participate, while a majority were happy to sit back and let this handful of students do all of the work. My solution? Participation sticks!
Each student had a stick with their number on it, which I placed in a container on my table while I was teaching a lesson. I would randomly draw a stick when I asked a question and that student would get to answer!
I taught an inclusion class, so my resource teacher often helped out with this. While my students thought that the selection was random, I was actually much more strategic about it. I picked students who I knew would be successful answering the question or would be able to work out the answer with my assistance (or their peers).
I also had students who were quite high academically, but very shy. I would help build up their confidence before pulling their number to answer a question. This helped them feel more successful while stepping out of their comfort zone.
The best part of this technique was that, as the year went on, we built a caring, trusting community in our classroom. Not long after starting the participation sticks, the students would get really excited to see who would be picked next. Eventually, we didn't even need the sticks anymore, as the students were clambering over each other to participate in the class lessons.
I'm Sara Soucy. I am an elementary school teacher, curriculum writer, educational blogger and founder of The Colorful Apple. This blog is a collection of my favorite ideas and materials for the classroom. Welcome!