I am often asked to give workshops on encouraging CLIL students to speak more. Among the challenges that CLIL teachers face in organizing speaking in their classrooms is the problem that not everyone participates. “The shy students don’t participate,” the teachers say, or, “Not everyone participates in the lesson.”
Apparently only about a quarter of your students consistently put their hands up to answer a question, or so says Dylan Wiliam, of London's Institute of Education. The rest just turn off. Some teachers have banned ‘hands up’ as a teaching strategy in favour of different strategies to get students involved in their classrooms. Using wooden lollipop sticks is one of these and apparently Professor Wiliam has been using them for over a decade.
So how do I use these communication regulators in my workshops? At the start of a workshop, I put an 11cm wooden lollipop stick next to each participant’s place, which gets them wondering where the ice creams are, or what they are going to do with the lolly sticks. Then I ask everyone to write their name – the one they would like to be called - on a lolly stick and I collect them together. I have a special lollipop tin for this.
I don’t ask my participants to put their hands up; instead, I try to engage everyone by using the lolly sticks. Each time we have a discussion, or I ask a question, I pause for a while so that everyone has time to think about their answer, then choose a random lollipop stick. That person then answers the question. This means that I don’t always work with the ‘keen’ participants, that everyone stays awake and thinks, since anyone might be asked to answer my question.
You can use the lolly sticks in other ways:
- For pair work. Give their two lollipop sticks to a pair of students. Pose a question, give students time to think, then the person whose lollipop stick is turned over first must answer first.
- For dividing your class into groups: shuffle the lollipop sticks and create groups.
- For group work: give each group their sticks. They must answer a discussion question in turn, as their lollipop stick is revealed.
- For a class discussion. Choose three sticks and pose a (higher order) question. The first two students respond to the question; the third student says which answer he or she finds the most appropriate and why.
I have also recently discovered and ordered coloured lolly sticks and will be thinking of some creative ways to use these.
Some enterprising teachers I worked with recently in Essen in Germany showed me other communication regulators which they use twenty- and thirty-sided dice, which have a similar purpose. They throw the die, then check their name list: whoever’s name is at that number on their class list must answer the question. And if they can’t answer the question, they are allowed to ask another question.
A one hour BBC programme, The Classroom Experiment, on the use of lollipop sticks and other strategies to get students involved and engaged. Includes the mystery of the missing lolly sticks…
Does anyone else have good strategies to get everyone to participate?