"Explicit Instruction" by Anita Archer and Charles Hughes has some great options for increasing responses. The authors encourage opportunities for each child to be more responsible and accountable for responding (versus raising hands and calling.) Some of the activities I have successfully done before and since reading this book with a 3-6 grade class:
*white boards--Students write short answers or multiple choice answers on their individual white boards. If you do not have individual white boards, laminated paper works, too.
*exit slips--Also can be used throughout the lesson on scrap paper to practice complete and supported written answers. I often have students switch and discuss their responses.
*"teach your partner"--assign students a number, shape,etc. When you wan to reaffirm a topic, say "Squares, please teach about _____ to your circle partner."
*think-pair-share--Give students time to individually think about the question posed, then they lean to a partner and discuss their answers, then have a couple students share answers with the whole class.
*think boxes--In their journal or notebook for whatever topic you are discussing (or on scrap paper, white boards, iPads doodle function, whatever works for you), have the students summarize what they have learned so far or answer a specific question. This can be very open and include diagrams or visual representations, lists, or complete sentences based on what you want from them. This works great when you are teaching a lesson and know your voice has been going for too long.
*echo--Often if a student responds with "I don't know," I'll call on another student to answer the question. I will remind the first person I called on that I will be coming back to him/her to restate the answer.
*cloze or repeating from teacher--Sometimes we just want to provide an opportunity for our kids to be saying something. The verbal response (even though it might not be a highly thoughtful process) can help refocus students who might be daydreaming or lost. When you are introducing a vocabulary word, you might say the word, have them repeat it, then after you have discussed it, have the whole class repeat it again or clap syllables. Or if you as the teacher are modeling reading something, you might have a signal (I snap) that means that the students as a class should read the next word. Again, it's not really responding in a thoughtful way, but it is giving an opportunity to be verbal and hear different voices.
*Have students do something physical to respond to a question. Stand/sit; thumbs up/down; clap/stomp. Using these visual cues allows you to check in with students that may be confused (as can be seen by them looking around to copy an answer or not answering). Once the students have completed the action, they can get together with a partner who completed the same action and discuss; or they can get with someone who had the opposite action and defend their answers.
One of the biggest things with any of these strategies is providing think time. With the think time also comes very clear expectations on how they should be thinking in their head. In the beginning of the year or for difficult topics, I will often model quietly out loud how I am noticing clues or using sentence starters in my mind on how to answer the question. Also, any of the partner or group discussing activities need to be modeled and practiced many times to ensure that the groups are on task and know what to do if they are finished discussing.
I know this was a very long response. I hope it is helpful!
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I use Popsicle sticks with students names on it to randomly call on students. I give them 15 seconds to answer and then allow them to ask a friend if they are unable to answer.
Great answer. I love all those strategies. As an exit slip, I actually have the students reflect on the whole class, which allows me to check in with various standards, etc... Here is an example of the slip I created. You can find it under "Mrs. Nova Progress Report." http://katienovakudl.com/collecting-student-feedback/
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