Easy Ways to Increase Student Participation (...and Build a Stronger Classroom Community!)

Looking for easy ways to increase student participation in your classroom? Check out this post with tons of classroom management tips for getting your students to actively participate in your class. #studentparticipation #classroommangement

Consider this statement:"Relationships come first, everything else is second."

Would you agree?

So often teachers focus on teaching the content, but we often forget a very important core element of teaching:  relationships.  Students learn best from teachers that they have genuine relationships with.  If we fail to set that foundation, we are passing up incredible opportunities for learning and growth in our classrooms.

Now, imagine this: You're working on a new concept with your students and instead of having the same 3 students engaging in your classroom discussions, you have nearly the entire class interacting with one another (cue the laughter and smiles), while you watch learning expand from wall to wall in your classroom.  What a lovely sight!

Is it achievable?  Sure is!

Dare I say you can have all of your students participating in their learning AND building relationships with you and each other...at the same time?  Well, I just did and I'm gonna show you easy ways on how you can start doing it tomorrow!! (All of these ideas are some of my biggest take-aways from the Annual Conference for Middle Level Education that I recently attended)

I'm gonna share this information with you in two ways.  I've got a cliff notes style as well as a Facebook LIVE replay that you can check out to get the full details!  You choose!

The Cliff Notes for increasing student participation:

Below you will find 8 different ways to promote full class participation in your next activity, plus 1 bonus tip to make better connections with your those hard-to-reach students so that they will WANT to participate in your classroom.  (Want to skip right to the information you're looking for?  Use the time marks next to each idea to jump right to that portion of the video below.)

Answer/Echo (Video Time - 5:42):

Want to eliminate students using the "I don't know" response to get out of participating?  Try using the "answer/echo" strategy.  It's simple.  Ask students any question related to your discussion.  They can choose to answer the question if they know it, or echo the correct answer if they don’t once it’s been answered by another student.  

Paper Airplane (Video Time - 7:59):

Turn boring worksheets into active and engaging activities...all in a moment's notice. Here's how it's done.  Give out a worksheet that covers the skill you are working on (You already have this in your lesson plans anyways!).  Student will put their name on their sheet and answer only the first question.  Then, they create a paper airplane to toss their paper to someone else.  (It'll be okay, I promise!) Each student grabs someone else’s paper airplane worksheet to answer the next problem.  Continue until all problems are completed.  Students retrieve their original paper and check the work on their paper to make sure they agree with the answers on their paper before handing it in.  (Bonus outcome: You'll be the coolest teacher ever to actually allow students to make paper airplanes in your class!)

Idea via: Teach Beyond the Desk

Plickers (Video Time - 11:07):

Low on classroom technology?  With Plickers, all you need is your smart phone!  Students use special cards to represent their answers for different problems.  After scanning the room using an app on your phone, you'll have an instant assessment and full class participation. (Check and check!)


Quizlet LIVE (Video Time - 14:25):

With Quizlet LIVE, your students will participate in a fast-pace digital game that requires all students to work together as they race toward the finish line.  Using this web-based tool, students use digital devices to answer questions that you have prepared for them.  The quicker the students answer each question by working together, the quicker they reach the finish line.

Strike-a-Pose (Video Time - 17:18):

Boring worksheet?  Nope!  Not with "Strike-a-Pose!"  Get all of your students up and moving as they represent each answer on a worksheet by striking a pose.  This awesome idea by Teach Beyond the Desk is simple and ready at a moment's notice.  Choose 4 different poses (see sample above) to represent answer choices (A,B,C,D).  Students “strike a pose” to represent their answer.

4-Square Partners(Video Time - 19:32):

Help students build relationships AND engage in meaningful discussion with their classmates.  With the 4-Square Partner strategy, students pre-select 4 partners.  Here they will have a "high-five" partner, a "Fist-Pump" partner, a "Man-Hug partner, and a "Hip-Bump" partner.  Whenever you want your students to meet with a partner to discuss something related to what you are teaching, invite them to meet with one of their partners.  They will greet their partner with a high-five, fist pump...etc... (depending on the type of partner you've selected).  When they are done discussing, they finish their talk with the same gesture that they greeted their partner with.  What a fun way to have students interact!

All Raise Hands (Video Time - 21:31):

Tired of seeing the same 4 or 5 hands raised to answer questions?  Well, how does ALL hands raised sound?  Pretty good, right?  Here's how it's done.  After asking a question, students have 3 options to respond (and sitting like a lump on a log is NOT one of them!).  If the student knows the answer to your question, they answer by raising their hand completely straight into the air.  If the student is unsure, or has a question related to what you've asked them, they raise their arm at a right angle.  If the student does not know the answer at all, he or she will bend their arm and touch their thumb to their head.  This makes is easy to get a quick assessment as to where all students are in their understanding of the topic - AND, it requires FULL participation!

But What I Do Know Is...(Video Time - 24:06):

Easily keep students accountable for their learning by implementing the "But What I Do Know Is...  strategy.  Instead of accepting an "I don't know" response from a student, encourage them to tell you what they do know as it relates to the topic.   This helps student to see that even though they might not know the answer to your question, they still have something to offer to the discussion....and now for that bonus tip to make better connections with your students so that they will WANT to participate in your classroom...

10 x 2 Rule...(Video Time - 3:34):

Do you have a student or two that you've had a hard time connecting with?  Try the 10 x 2 Rule.  You intentionally and positively interact with a student for 10 consecutive days for 2 minutes each day.  In that time you only focus on building a better relationship with that student.  The hope is that over time, that student will learn to trust you and in turn, become a more productive member of your classroom community.

THE FULL STORY on How to Increase Student Participation:

Check out this video below as I dive deeper into each strategy discussed above.