Talking sticks are a great way to implement a 'no hands up' or formative assessment approach in your classroom.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
Talking sticks are a tool for randomising student questioning.
I create by writing student names on paddlepop sticks (otherwise known as pop sticks). During 'no hands up' lessons, I take a name stick from the cup and this is the student who responds to the question that I've asked.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
I find that my students are so much more engaged because there’s an expectation that they all need to have thought of an answer, rather than some students being passive learners (or daydreaming) and just letting the confident students drive the discussion. They also help me to see straight away who is and isn’t understanding things so I can adapt the lesson accordingly.
On other talking sticks that I’ve used previously, I included coloured dots which are based on reading groups. These dots help me when I do want to be SLIGHTLY less random in my questioning and ask a student who will most likely know the answer!
WHAT IF A STUDENT DOESN'T KNOW THE ANSWER?
If you’re worried about when students can’t answer questions, there are lots of strategies for this. Some suggestions include:
- Ask a Friend- when a student wants more help or support on a question, they can ask a fellow classmate or ask me to "pick again". Once we get the correct answer, I ask the initial student to repeat the correct answer. This ensures that the initial student is unable to "opt-out" of answering, but knows that they can ask for help if needed.
- Take 2- student can have some think time and I can come back to them after two others have answered.
- Give me a clue- the teacher or another student gives a clue to help the student work out the answer.
- Repeat the question- the student can ask me to repeat the question. Sometimes I might also ask the question in a slightly different way.
Here are some example of question prompts that I have in my classroom.
You can download these posters (and a variety of other versions) from the Freebee Library.