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Everyone talks in turn

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There are lots of ways of making sure you give everyone an opportunity to be successful during your lesson. But one problem is giving everyone a chance to speak. Do you call on the boys with their hands up? Do you respond to the student who calls out the answer? Do you call on boys and girls alternately?

I use a very simple way to decide who speaks next - note cards. In September, after I get my class list, I fill in my register, make my seating chart and put each name on one note card, big enough to read easily. I keep the cards on my desk in a little box, separated by class.

Then at the beginning of each question-and-answer session, or when we begin to go over a homework assignment, I shuffle the cards.

This has become a signal to the class to settle and pay attention, because you never know whose name will be on top. After I ask the first question and call on the first student, they can answer the question (immediate success) ask for a clue (which is often an associated question), or take a pass. But if they take a pass, the next question is theirs, and so on until they get one right.

This method tends to keep students on task because, unless they have just been called on, their card may be next. Differentiation is easy because I can see whose name is next and phrase my question in a way that will maximise success for the pupil as well as challenge.

Gender issues associated with question-and-answer sessions are minimised because after I have asked the question, I can wait until the student is ready to answer, allowing thinking time, and the student asks for a clue if necessary, so boys and girls work on the same pattern.

Depending on the lesson, I might get through the whole pack of cards and need to reshuffle. And if I don't get through them all in one lesson, at least I know that within a couple of lessons, everyone has had a chance to show what they know.

Elizabeth Mearkle, faculty manager, science, Angley School, Kent

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