Following Fergus Hegarty's demonstration of a randon name generator at last nights TeachMeet North East (Flashmeeting here ). I decided to debrief my students about why they like it and how it helps them to learn.They had just had a lesson where I asked a question an d then nomintaed a student using a name selector after a few secons. ( These few seconds ensures all students get to think about the problem posed.) This is their response.
An interesting and revealing read, showing how democracy and fairness in the classroom is very much valued by our students, and that they all deep down want to be involved in discussions. This appears to be the opposite of what you might expect, you may think students may not want to be involved and shy away from the challenge, this simply is not the case.
There seems to be no doubt that a random name generator raises their intrinsic motivation for this, so I am now eager for our next lesson to find out if this is maintained without its use. I think novelty is a big part,so, too frequent use will erode its appeal. It will be back to me selecting students, which has its own use, especially differentiating questions and targetting specific students. It is interesting to note that they don't see me as being inclusive as being totally random. Is this the classroom equvalent of the i-pod shuffle phenomena?
I am particularly pleased by their pedagogical knowledge of this stategy, namely that it makes everyone think even if they are not asked a question which is nicely summarised by Luke who identifies that sometimes students "do not answer questions at all".
The use of wait time is essential for this strategy to work,so asking the question with a small wait before the student is selected ansures that all students have to think of an answer.More difficult questions may induce a small discussion before the student is selected.
A basic selector can be made in PowerPoint by putting one name per slide,setting the transition to zero seconds, and setting the slides to loop unti "Esc".
My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.