Buehler? . . . Beuhler? . . . Anybody? . . . Better ways to call on students

Susie in the front row has her hand up, as always.
Damian, off to the side, looks like he might actually suffer some sort of injury if you don’t call on him.
Scott is just glad those two have their hands up so he doesn’t have to.

It is a scenario that plays out in classrooms across the country on a daily basis. The same kids put their hands up, and the same kids “check out”.

One way to avoid the scenario completely is to use cooperative learning structures instead. That’s another post.

Another way to avoid this is to use some method of randomly calling on students so that they never know when they are going to be called on – only that at some point, they will.

Traditional Methods of Random Calling

  • Craft/Popsicle Sticks. For each class you teach, write each student’s name on a stick. Keep them in a jar/cup. Choose as needed. I like using the colored sticks for this, because I can give each class a color.
  • Index Cards. On the first day of class, have students fill out index cards with basic information and their names in print letters big on the blank side of the index card. Shuffle the deck, choose as needed. A plus for this is being able to jot down notes on students as you go.
  • Playing Cards. Print out labels with your students names and attach them to playing cards. Shuffle. Choose as needed.

I used to be a big proponent of the craft stick – it just takes up so much room, and writing the names out is so tedious. With the introduction of my Promethean board, I prefer the following techie options. (If you don’t have a smart board of any kind, this still works on a computer. I believe most handhelds (pdas) also have some type of name generator software available.

Techie Ways of Random Calling

  • Super Teacher Tool’s Random Name Generator   –  I really like this one as it makes it easy for you to type in your class list once, and be done with it. The Name Generator is a cute clipboard graphic with the chosen child’s name on it. I made each class page a favorite in the same folder so I can bring up all four pages with one click. You can also use the same class list to generate groups and seating charts.
  • Class tools random
  • Classtool’s Fruit Machine – If you haven’t Classtools they are definately worth a visit. This particular tool allows you to input your class list, and then either use the “fruit machine” which looks like a slot machine to randomly select students or use the typewriter function to do the same. You can either have your kids typed up in a word document and paste in as needed, or you can embed the finished product in your webpage. Thank you, Mrs. Smith for the idea. I teach four classes, so I just embedded four different fruit machines on my page.
  • fruit machine

If you have any other ways of randomly selecting students, please share!

7 comments so far

  1. Beth on

    I sometimes use a program called “The Hat.” I downloaded it to my desktop and typed the kids in once. I can pick individuals or pairs. It literally picks the names out of a hat. Very cute🙂

  2. mrsgannon on

    Thanks for writing, Beth! That looks like a very cute program indeed!
    Here is a link for downloading “The Hat” for anyone interested: http://download.cnet.com/The-Hat/3000-2132_4-10074565.html
    It is a free download from CNET. A good option to have for those days the internet doesn’t work!

  3. Eve Heaton on

    I use the craft sticks. They are low tech but the kids feel it is more fair then randomly picking students. It also ensures that I have asked questions from everyone.

  4. mrsgannon on

    Eve, you should really give the fruit machine a try. My kids went wild over it today. (First time they’d seen it) I had to hand out parts in a reader’s theater, and just ran it each time to assign the numbered roles. Usually there is grumbling, but because they saw the machine spin nobody grumbled at all!

    I agree, you really need something to make sure you’re including everyone – even if its just a clipboard and tally marks.

  5. Joe T on

    I have my desks grouped into 8 groups of 4. The groups are numbered 1-8 and the four desks within each group are assigned a color (either green, blue, red, or orange). This way each student has an individual number/color identity and I can use ONE SET of popsicle sticks for all of my classes. I can pull a stick and say the number and then color. It’s a new system for me, but it seems to be working. Usually I have lessons displayed on my smartboard, so it’s difficult to display techie student name generator apps.

  6. Jenny Brunk on

    There’s also a great phone app called Who’s Calling that is fairly easy to use and enter class data. It seems like this program takes a long time to open up and load?? My phone app is quick & easy….I can’t wait to try the Fruit Machine:)

  7. mrsgannon on

    I recently came across a Google App script that will not only generate names but allow teachers to score replies and it is free. You can read more about it here: https://plus.google.com/+AndrewStillman/posts/dCm9bPsE9pb

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