At last month’s ASCD conference, I had the pleasure of speaking with William and Persida Himmele, the husband and wife team who wrote the wonderful new book Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner. I can’t say enough good things about how useful and practical this book is, and I’m excited to share it with you.

I asked the Himmeles what they think the big take-away for teachers should be when they read this book. Persida explained that the goal is not just getting all students to participate in lessons, but getting them to participate in ways that are meaningful, authentic, and involve higher order thinking.

Often, teachers are tempted to settle for less. Sometimes the issue is misplaced empathy, a concept the Himmeles explore more fully in their first book, The Language-Rich Classroom: A Research-Based Framework for Teaching English Language Learners. As educators, we tend to let students (especially English language learners and kids with special needs) get away with one word responses and don’t press them to move into the realm of critical thinking.

Oh, how I have been guilty of that! I’ll call on a struggling student who tells me the basic answer and then ask a higher achieving child to explain why it’s the correct answer so that I don’t embarrass the struggling student or put him or her on the spot. Persida explains that this is a bias discrimination you can see: teachers have good intentions, and misplaced empathy looks nice, but it does a huge disservice to struggling kids. A big cause of the achievement gap is that so many kids are allowed to linger in quadrant one of the figure below. Persida urges us to be tenacious and decide we’re not going to allow students not to learn. We have to challenge our students and convey an attitude  of “I am not going to let you fail or stay where you’re at right now.”

The Himmeles shared a story about their daughter, who once came home from school and said she was bad at math. Instead of telling her, “Oh, honey, that’s okay, you’re good at other things,” they said to her, “Okay, so get good at it!” They persisted through the struggle with her and she’s now at the 95th percentile in math. William explains that kids get it in their heads that they’re not going to get master a skill or subject area because they’re not smart. “Smartness doesn’t impress me,” he says. The person who is going to do well is the person who is using the right strategy at the right time. He cautions teachers not to tell kids they are smart, and instead ask, “What did you do to figure it out? What strategies did you use?” and build from that point.

The Himmeles wanted to be very clear: they’re not blaming teachers. They understand that the system of school does not support teachers in pursuing higher-level thinking and total participation in the classroom. Persida talked about how NCLB measures without providing supports and pathways. The testing pressure takes away time for kids to process information. And as educators, we often have no choice but to keep kids stuck in lower level thinking and minimal involvement because we have to hurry. The Himmele’s book works from the assumption that we have to trust the teachers and the kids.

This grid sums up the basic principle of the book: Many of our classroom activities leave kids stuck in quadrant 1: lower order, low participation. The ideas in the book make it simple for teachers to move kids to quadrant 4 (higher order, high participation) during more classroom activities.
This grid sums up the basic principle of the book: Many of our classroom activities leave kids stuck in quadrant 1: lower order, low participation. The ideas in the book make it simple for teachers to move kids to quadrant 4 (higher order, high participation) during more classroom activities.

And that’s the beauty of this book: it clearly explains 37 different classroom-ready techniques teachers can use to teach the curriculum they’re required to teach, but in ways that get kids actively involved on a deeper level than just a class discussion. Some of the ideas require advance planning and others which can be done on the spur of the moment once they’ve been added to your teaching repetoire.

They suggest creating a Total Participation Techniques (TPTs) folder for each child to keep in their desks so the techniques can be used any time. The materials can be laminated and re-used from year to year. Some of the items include a laminated piece of consutrction paper (to use as an individual whiteboard), true/not true hold up cards, number cards, a processing card to show where students are in their thinking (shown on the book cover), and guided note-taking templates.

William explained that Total Participation Techniques help with classroom management because kids are allowed to talk and move around. It also enhances the sense of community, which is the foundation for a well-run classroom. If you have the same 5 kids answering questions over and over, using TPTs will get the other students used to interacting and working collaboratively and get your entire class more actively involved in their learning. I love this quote from page 109 of the book: “The best thing about implementing TPTs is that teaching is no longer a guessing game as to who is experiencing growth. With TPTs, you get to observe growth as it happens. You get to celebrate learning right alongside your students.”




  1. Jennifer

    Allowing students enough time to think of an answer, without some students becoming discipline problems due to the slower pace is a problem for me. You have the kids who have their hand up before they even have an answer, and the kids who will never raise a hand. I would love some new ideas of how to get everyone involved!

  2. Liz S.

    It’s frustrating when you always have the same kids raise their hand. I would love to get more students to participate, but I also know that some students are just shy to speak in front of their classmates. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I see the same thing with adults. I sometimes, allow students to do a think-pair-share to get involved. That way they are participating, but within the safety of just a small group. I would love more ideas of how to get all students involved that doesn’t create discomfort. Thanks!

  3. Karen

    To get students to actively participate I have students answer questions on personal white boards. Sometimes they hold the answer in the air, sometimes I have them leave the answer flat on the desk for me to come around and check. If they get the answer wrong I often have them try again rather than giving them the answer the first time.

  4. Lynn Meade

    To get as much participation as possible I use Think-Pair-Share, dry erase boards, wait time, popsicle sticks with student names on them, and activotes. I’ve been a math coach for the past two years but will be going back into the classroom next year. I plan on doing more with formative assessment pieces like entrance and exit slips. I struggle with the lethargic student who puts his/her head on their desk and refuses to participate and also students who say they can’t work with others. I’m always looking for new ideas.

  5. Sherie

    I teach 3rd grade and I also use Think-Pair-Share. I find that students are more willing to share with a large group after having done so with a small one. During discussions, I also encourage the kids to respond to each other and not just to me, using language like, “I agree with Ben because…” or “I disagree because…”. They learn that they can all have different thoughts and opinions and share them respectfully. I encourage the shy kids as well. Even if they just make a comment like, “I thought Amy had a good idea.” at least they are participating. When they see that others respond positively or agree with them, it builds their confidence. I would love to learn some fresh new ideas though.

  6. Beth

    The student responses I enjoy most and feel my students (5th graders) show comprehension growth from evolve from small group graphic organizer creation. I introduce and/or reinforce a particular diagram and its purpose, and ask students to complete one based upon their collective understanding. We then share these organizers with the class and post them throughout the current book or story. They are a great tool to refer to throughout the school year.

  7. Lori Labrum

    I use the “names on sticks” like several others, but I also use the random name picker on my Smartboard which the kids just love the musical do-dads to see who comes up. But I also allow students to choose a friend to help them answer a question. When they choose a friend, the friend can give then answer, but the original student must repent the answer. They seem to feel they are free from the embarassment of not knowing the answer, but they are in control of who they get to pick for help. Also, they know they might be choosen to help their friend so they tend to listen and think a bit more.

  8. Addie Williams

    I’ve just finished reading this book – love many of their ideas and have had fun incorporating them into my high school classroom. My students enjoy and respond well to personal whiteboards (I used white melamine platters from the dollar store – they work really well.) and using sticky notes to leave questions on the board, as exit slips, or as a way to ask “I wonder” questions at the start of a unit. (Students write on a sticky note and put on the board – I go over them all. Every student is involved, however nobody is put on the spot, because their sticky notes are anonymous.)

  9. Karen

    I agree with many of the responses (Think-Pair-Share, white boards, and discussions that require the students to listen to and respond to others’ answers). I also have a Promethean Board with Learner Response Systems. All students have a responder and need to answer. In addition, I try to do activities to involve movement. For example, each student receives a word card. They move to areas of the room depending on if the word is singular or plural, long e or short e, noun or verb, etc. In the group, they discuss their word and how it fits in the category.

  10. Kim Schumacher

    I am also guilty of calling on struggling learners with the “easy” questions so as not to embarrass them. I can’t wait to read the book so I can teach all of my students to think deeper.

  11. Tonya

    I get a better response from students when I allow them to share in a small group first. I think this takes the pressure off to have the best and perfect answer. After sharing in a group, students often feel more confident in their own answers.

  12. Trish decker

    I use think pair share and team talk to get everyone to participate.

  13. Danielle I

    I like to put the kids in groups and compete in games with each other. The students enjoy playing battleship the most. Before they make a move, they have to solve a problem. Their partner has to solve to make sure they got the answer correct. Once it’s correct, they get to make their move. After everyone is finished, we talk about any problems or concerns they had.

  14. Sara Baker

    I use Ticket out the door slips/post its & put them on door so I make sure everyone is accountible. I have just began using Smart responders. I like them a lot. Smart also has an ipad app like the responders for those lucky folks. It is hard for the younger grades to get 1s to turn 2s & share their answers, so I can’t wait to read this book to pick up new tips for informal assessment.

  15. Jill Esposito

    Here are some of the ways I spark participation in my classroom:
    – have the students use the microphone/classroom audio system
    – get out my video camera and “make it a production”
    – tell the kids that I need them to play the teacher and they can pose questions and lead discussions
    – give extra points/punches on their reward cards

  16. Libby S.

    I use the Power Teaching Mathematics structure which incorporates tons of formative assessments. Students work in teams to learn math concepts, so they earn points for various cooperation goals which gets everyone in the team to participate. I am always looking for new techniques to promote total participation, and I would love to read this book!

  17. Candice

    I am not yet a teacher. I am in Grad School and will be starting my Student Teaching in the Fall and a resource like winning this book would be a great starting point so please enter me as well.


  18. Donna Graham

    I find that our math morning meeting, which is part of our scripted (ugh!) math program, can get very tedious for some students. In order to encourage total participation, I have let students use white boards to solve the problems and show the answers. Also during morning meeting I have used think-pair-share to solve the math problem of the day and talk about the strategy used to arrive at an answer. Additionally, I have tried what I call table activities, where each group member has to answer questions about a read aloud, whether fiction or non-fiction. The groups will come back to the whole, and every member of the group shares his/her answer.

  19. Mary S. Pitner

    I have started letting my groups talk together before they answer the question. They use whiteboards to show their answers. They don’t have to have the same answer as their group if they do not agree, but they must be able to defend their answer.

  20. Jill

    I use the names on sticks like other teachers. I also use Think-Pair-Share but I am also always looking for more ideas!! 🙂

  21. Deanna I

    I use small hand-held white boards for students to write responses on, throw first names constantly into my lessons as if we are having a conversation, hand out “bonus bucks” during the lesson to anyone “taking a risk” and participating, give instant dojo points from I feel it is toughest to get my special ed students involved when the material is so hard for them at times. Would love this book to help me with strategies!

  22. Brittany Phelps

    I use a few different strategies to get my students involved. I have about 3 girls who are always the first to raise their hands and the rest just sit there. When I need total participation, I use chalkboards (I’m a first year teacher so I’m using what was left for me right now!) and have the kids write down their answers. I have also recently started to use “Exit Slips” in which students answer a few questions from the day’s lesson or write down something they learned. As a first year teacher, I would love to win this book and learn new ways to engage my students!

  23. Sally DeCost

    It sounds like a lot of us are on the same track! We use “turn and talk” in our school district, which is a variation of Think-Pair-Share. I also use many of the Whole Brain Teaching methods, which I love because the students love to participate. I’d love to hear more ideas on keeping students participating!

  24. Amy Biddison

    I think a key to getting everyone involved is TIME – giving students time to think through the question, time to think through their knowlege, and time to formuluate an answer. I try really hard not to call for an answer immediately, rather I wait a few moments and encourage my class to keep thinking.

  25. mo

    As a school psychologist running groups, I try to use interactive techniques with getting them to participate, especially my most quiet ones. I find it hard however, to manage the more verbose and outgoing children and keep them from over-shadowing the rest of the students in the group. This book is definitely going on my to read list! Looking forward to reading it.

  26. Shelley

    Helping unmotivated students is my greatest frustration. I’m always looking for more ways to encourage engagement and participation.

  27. Mike M

    I try to allow extra think time and provide my sped kids with questions ahead of time. I also assign roles for group activities.

  28. Jennifer Reck

    I call on students to respond to questions, but if the answer is right or wrong, I call on another student. I may call on 5 or 6 students before I say something like, “If you said or thought Great Horned Owl, you are right!” Children listen carefully to each other because they know I may call on them hand up or not!
    I would love to share this book with my faculty!

  29. Valerie

    I try to use more kinesthetic responses… “if you agree with so and so’s answer, clap twice” or “stomp your feet if the answer is false” and I aso use a ball for those who answer. It’s amazing how many more hands go up if there is a foam ball involved!

  30. Patti Nelson

    TIM, TIME. Time is what my students need. So my students are given a question and time to think it through before someone is allowed to answer. I have trained my students to give a reason for their answer when they answer a question. This sometimes get a good debate going.

  31. Audine

    I teach students with special needs. So I struggle with a balancing act of blurting out any answer and no answers. I found an idea on pinterest using and adapted to my class. I made a “think cloud” with a hole in the middle for their face. When a student wants to answer, they can only speak with the speak cloud. This is more hands on and they all enjoy that. For the shy ones, it gives them a chance to “hide” but still try to give an answer. When I first began, I gave a mini marshmallow as a reward for trying. I tapered off as time went by. The cloud moves a little slower because the get rewards for answers that stay within the subject area (discourages blurting out random answers). I even had a positive remark on my evaluation for coming up with the idea!

  32. Lois Lantz

    I use cards with each student’s name and work my way through the stack, I also use an app on my iPhone with similar process of random selection.

  33. Melissa Ennis

    I usually make them work in small groups to come up with the answer. I find that the shy kids enjoy this and it helps them build their confidence at the same time. When I bring them back to a whole group discussion, they all participate and share what they learned during their small group.

  34. Sally Hill

    Having the students use whiteboards to give responses has proven to be a good way to increase engagement.

  35. Crystal

    I use names on sticks and individual white board responses. I can always use new ideas.

  36. Jenny Dixon

    Doing a quick think-pair-share has helped those students in my classroom, who often need a little longer to reflect on the information before joining in on a whole group discussion. I believe it helps the most timid of students achieve a higher level of confidence.

  37. Amy

    When I am done explaining a concept to my students, I have them take a couple of minutes and “teach” it to their neighbors. This helps them better retain the information and for anyone still struggling, they are getting another explanation that can sometimes make more sense to them! I use this in small and whole groups.

  38. Εvdokia

    I try to include a variety of activities based on the students’ level. Mixed-ability classrooms are a challenge and I hope this book gives some good ideas I can implement!

  39. Ann Wonderly

    I like to use small group discussions so students can come up with answers together.

  40. Mary Silverman

    Using erasable white boards and having them hold up their answers is fun for all.

  41. Chris Eagar

    Some times I use sticks to randomly call on students so that I don’t get the same eager ones answering all the questions; but I know that some students just don’t want to answer in front of people. I was a very shy student and never raised my hand to answer questions, but I was always paying attention. So, I try to be aware of those students too, and walk around to confirm understanding by talking to them individually or looking at their work. One way to keep them actively involved in whole group lessons it chunking. Teach the idea in small 3-5 minute chunks, and have them turn to their neighbors and explain the idea again before moving on. Also, I try to teach/talk with my hands and I let them copy my movements. I try to make up movements to go with each topic (cross arms for multiplication, moving fingers for walking, etc.) This helps them stay involved and gives the lessons a physical quality.

  42. Morgan

    Motivation is my biggest struggle with my EBD kids. I try to keep the lessons teen-friendly, standards based, and relevant content, but many days, I feel like I am talking to myself.

  43. Debbie

    I find that working in small, leveled groups works well but I’m not able to meet with every group every day. I would love to have some new techniques to use with whole group instruction!

  44. Susan Fletcher

    This topic interests me a lot! I teach 2nd grade for the first time in my 28 years of teaching! I am used to teaching older kids, so I need help on getting everyone involved in my lessons. I hope I win this book. What I do is have kids face me so I can see their eyes, call on all kids (not just the ones with their hands raised), and if they’re not paying attention, just inserting their name in my sentence and keep right on teaching.

  45. Beth

    I use thumbs up/down, partner and trio share, answers on white boards or sometimes I’ll post the questions before reading so some kids have more time to think.

  46. Kim Mathney

    I have been using whiteboards a lot lately, so this has been helping. I always have those 2 or 3 who never want to participate. It gets very frustrating.

  47. Donna Acre

    I use multiple methods to get the students to participate. One of the most successful ways this year has been making mistakes. I give an assignment for the students to complete. Then I put the answers on the board and ask if there are any questions. I may or may not have made any mistakes on the answers. The students can’t wait to check my work for mistakes. When they think they’ve found one it becomes a huge discussion on whether it is right or wrong including resources to back up their point. Usually, I don’t have to do much because the students conduct their own class.

  48. Diane Waud

    This year our school improvement goals have been two-fold: 1) to have teachers as learners and 2) to begin to incorporate the concept of partnering with students. In my study of partnering, I have specifically been studying quality questioning with my kindergarten students. It has been amazing to hear the depth K students can go when I am consciously asking better questions. This book you have mentioned in the give away would give me additional tools in my toolbox to engage all my students. I will be looking forward to reading it.

  49. Jennifer S.

    I have found that I am so guilty of this, especially when being observed! I use Think Pair Share and a lot of cooperative learning, but I like to mix things up with new activites. I would LOVE to read this book and add a repertoire of 37 engaging techniques! I NEED this. : )

  50. Karyn

    In my class students do lots of work in small gorups as well as weekly Socratic Seminars. Together the students and I developed class norms for cooperative groups and Socratic Seminar. One of our norms is “No hogs/No logs” meaning no one person should hog or take over the conversation and no one can sit like a bump on a log and not participate. When students are working in cooperative learning groups or in Socratic Seminar we use “talking chips”. Each student gets a small dixie cup with 5 counters. Each time they would like to add to the conversation they place a talking chip or counter in the group cup in the middle. . Each student is required to use at least three of their talking chips. Once all of a students chips are gone they must wait for others to use all of their chips before sharing again.

    Students also self-evaluate their participation in small group and seminar using a self-assessment rubric.

  51. Dina Wise

    I make sure all student have time to think before letting anyone else shout out. We put our finger on our nose when we think we know the answer. Then I draw from the cup for a student response. The rest of the class has to give this student a thumbs up if they agree, a thumbs down if they thinks the answer is wrong or a thumbs side ways if their not sure. I also call on everyone at the same time to answer questions after think time.

  52. Annemarie Kurdes

    As a teacher of special needs learners I am always striving to get those quieter kids involved. My classroom is one of positive reinforcement and energy, allowing all students to feel safe in their responses. I always give one minute of think time before choosing a student and allow others to “add on to the answer” before we discuss. Students often have a way to write individual responses even if they are not willing to share so assessment of skills is still possible.

  53. Michelle

    I use the random word chooser and program it with all my students names. When we are having a discussion I let the SmartBoard choose who gets to respond.

  54. Cheryl Deutschman

    Starting the first week of school, I teach my kids how to “Turn and Talk.” I teach the directions for finding a buddy (elbow, back row, to your left…) and we practice that technique until they have it down. I also teach how to talk about a subject and be responsible for what we say; such as we only stay on topic and say positive, encouraging remarks to each other. We can disagree but we do so in a polite, kind manner and the other person has to do the same. This not only keeps the kids listening to what I am teaching but it allows them to practice speaking which is important for all children but especially my ELLs.

  55. Darcy

    I teach English, Math, & Science to an entirely ESL population with extremely limited exposure to English outside of my classroom. I often find myself relying on lower-level thinking questions rather than pushing my students to think deeper. I struggle to explain Think-Pair-Share to the students but am starting to see success. I also use popsicle sticks to randomize the students on whom I call. I’m always looking for ways to improve my teaching.

  56. Gina

    I have started using sticks to get all kids to at least be paying attention because there is always a chance they will be called on. The problem I have is that I feel bad calling on kids when their stick is pulled if they clearly have no idea. Or even worse, I have a child that barely speaks (practically a choice mute) and I still need him to participate and when I call on him he just stares at me.

  57. Kathryn

    This sounds like an incredibly valuable resource. It would make a great book study read for my team! It also appears that it might dovetail well with Kagan cooperative learning structures.

  58. Amelia Whitaker

    I like to use mini dry erase boards for short answers. I quite often call on someone or a group and say, “Prove it.” They enjoy debating each other to see who/which group proved it the best. One problem I have with strugglers is when they hear someone’s answer, they will use that answer or say “Someone said my answer.” Most of the time I don’t have time to dig deeper individually to be SURE that my struggler really had that answer and can RAP (Read, Answer, Prove) their thoughts.

  59. Debbie

    I like an activity called climbing the ladder. Where I have leved out questions from easy to gard. I partner up kids then give them the easy level copied in one color when they get that completed, they bring me the paper I check for accuracy and precision. Then give the group the next level up in a different color or have them go baxk and try again. Great way to get everyone involved at their own level.

  60. Betsy Rogusta

    To get students to participate in Math I do a daily Number Talk. It’s a mental math problem that they look at and problem solve mentally. I ask for and record each child’s answer without comment. Then I ask them to explain how they got their answer and what strategies they used. I write their thinking down and when I’ve recorded several we discuss all the different ways used to solve the same problem.

  61. Donald Schultz

    Generally, I provide the group with wait time. I ask that they put their thumb on their knee when they have a response. If I see that the majority of the group has a response, I pull a name out of the “fairness stick cup.” I also try to spice it up by having them “turn and talk” to their neighbor during other times when queries are posed to the group. Again, I might choose a name from the “fairness sticks.”

  62. Tina Lageson

    I teach kindergarten, we use lots of visuals, turn and talk, think pair share and regular check in procedures.

  63. Emma

    Currently I am student teaching, and I have struggled with how to actively engage my struggling students who leave the room for extra reading support with the instruction specialist. When they are in the room, there are a few that automatically don’t try and think that they can’t do the regular work everyone else does. So they don’t even care. So it’s been hard to try and find a way to engage them in higher level thinking.

  64. Kathy

    At my school we’re starting to focus on tiered differentiation lessons which can be a challenge, but have so many great benefits. I often felt I was teaching to the average learner & the struggling learner. Now I have the encouragement to teach to the student who needs more challenges. I find that during most of my lessons, I start with whole group instruction and then break into small groups sometimes homogeneoulsy grouped & at other times heterogeneously grouped. I can clearly see that the students who “wait” for other students to answer start to realize that they need to answer, work, etc & often they tend to feel more comfortable to speak in a small group regardless of the grouping. While I always did this in guided reading groups, I see that is highly effective in all subject areas & in turn have a better handle on how everyone is learning while all students have a better opportunity to learn and participate. I would appreciate winning this book to get more great ideas!!

  65. Katie Wright-Sabbatino

    Like so many of the comments, I use a combination of “Turn and Talk” and “Genuine Conversations” strategies. Out of all the strategies that I use in my classroom, I think that “Turn and Talk” is the most valuable for encouraging high-level participation. I love it because the students are interacting with each other, but when it comes to sharing, it’s OK if one partner isn’t sure about the answer, they’ve already practiced with a buddy and can use each other for support. The other technique, “Genuine Conversations”, strategically teaches the students how to wait their turn, offer their opinions, ask questions, piggyback on answers, refer back to the text for support, and disagree constructively. It does take some time to implement, but the results are so worth it!! I teach 2nd grade and the conversations that my students have are deeper and more meaningful after I teach the strategies. I use what my county created to implement “genuine conversations”, but I am sure it is based on the work/writings of someone famous!!

  66. Mrs. K.

    I, like you, tend to call on the struggling students for simple answers and rely on others for more in-depth explanation, because I am so afraid of embarrassing the struggling student and making school an even worse nightmare for them! One way I like to encourage participation is by grouping my students by 3’s or 4’s and allowing students to discuss possible answers amongst themselves before sharing them with the rest of the class. I feel that a smaller group feels “safer,” and the quieter students are more likely to volunteer as the group’s “spokesperson.” It has helped but is not fool-proof, which is why I’d love to read this book for myself!

    *please excuse typos, as I’m writing this from my iPhone, and autocorrect sometimes has a mind of its own. 🙂

  67. terri

    I use think pair share all the time… They “consult” with their partner, write the answer on their personal white boards, then often I will ask someone to share what their PARTNER said. I use
    classDoJo to log who responded; they love to see their little creature get a point. 🙂

  68. Morgan Aiello

    I give them a minute or two to find or think about the answer before calling on anyone. I make sure everyone is using that wait time to come up with an answer!

  69. Cindy

    Drawing sticks, on-line name generator, having them discuss in groups or pairs then providing answers…. would love, love, love some more ideas!

  70. Kim Bain

    I have found the “Turn and Talk to you Buddy” is a fabulous way to engage all students. I use it a lot and the kids love it. Also helpful is the use of personal white boards. All students are engaged in thinking and writing – then we have discussion.

  71. Rachel

    As a special education teacher, I struggle so much with keeping all my students actively engaged in a meaningful way. I have tried so many things; table with high medium and low achiving students, think-pair-share, 30 second pause and think and pulling random number sticks (my tables are numbered because I teach middle school). I have yet to find something that works for my mix of ADHD, CI, EI and LD students. My lessons are leveled, so everyone can participate at the level at which they are learning, but it seems that on average I get about half of what they are capable of. This is my 14th year, and each year gets more frustrating. This is a book I definitely need!

  72. Jennifer

    I have yet to find the one go to attention keeper that works everyday for everyone of my students. I teach two reading/language arts blocks as a 4th grade teacher. Both groups are entirely different, and within each group there are so many different students. It depends entirely on the day!

  73. Susan Fletcher

    Terri, what is class DoJo?

  74. Shanna

    I would love to win this book! The best way to get kids involved is to create lessons that are meaningful to their immediate lives. Authentic objectives and activities are the way to go! Avoid drills and excessive lecturing. Besides these basic principles, I also have a can with craft sticks with each kid’s name on them. I pull a name and that student has to respond. It keeps their attention! I also try to have some engaging introduction in my lessons to pique their interest.

  75. Louise

    I appreciate reading the variety of ways teachers engage students. I’ve used a Kagan Cooperative learning activity – Quiz/Quiz / Trade with primary students. Questions about their reading are either teacher- or student-generated. Each student receives a question card & pairs up with another student. They take turns with the question/response, then trade cards and move to another partner. The person asking the question agrees & responds with ‘good job’ or disagrees & the students discuss/refer to the text to help answer the question.
    The TPTs sound like a great resource!

  76. Sara Woolstenhulme

    Recently, I used paperclips to get my students to participate. They had to ask and answer questions in Spanish and got to take paperclips away from each other if they heard English. It was surprisingly motivating for them. I even had students that never try to speak Spanish who were refusing to speak English. It was great!

  77. Jodi

    My biggest challenge is that I teach art and some kids simply don’t care about what happens in art. They don’t understand why they have to learn it, despite my constant attempts at connecting to other contents. Plus, to add to the battle, my district has most “specials” twice every six day cycle, but has art only once a cycle.

  78. Julee Carns

    I often ask them not to raise their hands for several seconds to give everyone a chance to think. Then when I call on someone, I’ll ask what they are thinking. If they don’t have anything to offer, I’ll ask in another way that gives them some clue. Sometimes I ask them to share with their neighbor/partner first. This helps to give them an idea of an answer if they couldn’t think of something themselves.

  79. Patricia Whitfield

    My kids help me create the formative and summative tests for a concept or skill. Becuase they know that the questions that provoke the most critical thinking will be used most of them tend to get really involved in the learning. I also have peer teaching, when a student really gets it they can teach someone else. Students love to do this.

  80. Warren

    I attempt to build some success into the q&a sessions for all students. I have, in the past, “telegraphed” my intended questions by informing targetted students (those that have not enjoyed much success in the past), of the nature and type of questions I intend to ask, and inform them that I’ll be calling on them to answer “xyz” during the session. I’ll do this via one-on-one “chats” as students enter the room, insuring that they’re not feeling singled out in front of the entire class. I find that as the students enjoy success, they become more willing to become engaged and respond to questions and have input into class discussions.

  81. Dody McDaniel

    I’ve tried Popsicle sticks, random word selector on Smartboard, and lots of bribes.

  82. Jenise

    I try to use Kagan techniques but have only had minimal training. I would LOVE to have this book. I work in a high poverty school, so keeping kids engaged is even more challenging. I need some fresh ideas.

    • Missy

      I understand completely, I am in the same boat with everything you said.

  83. Jennifer Fullerton

    Sometimes I call on the students that are not raising their hands. Then, when they I wasn’t going to answer, I have them think about it and then they answer. These kids don’t raise their hands because they think other kids are going to answer for them.

  84. Judy Dickson

    I will often incorporate movements and hand gestures for all of the students to act out various concepts for math and science especially. These will often be paired with either a song or other catchy auditory description. Everyone usually wants to participate because it’s a chance to get up and move. 🙂

  85. Linda Dalton

    To ensure all students are participating and that I am asking the appropriate level of questioning for each one, I lately have been given an iPad and I downloaded the app Stickpicks. Before that, I wrote my lesson plans following GANAG by Jane Pollack. If written and followed correctly, you will manage to maintain some level of fairness with questions and the appropriate level of the questions.

  86. Linda Dalton

    I also use WBT on a daily basis. (Sorry, forgot to mention that earlier).

  87. Alison G.

    I do a lot of put your hands on your head if you agree. I also enjoy having kids move to four corners of the room, etc. I like to get the kids moving!

  88. Kathy Regier

    I’m interested in learning about the techniques to get all children involved as described in this book. Sounds very interesting and do-able!

  89. Kristin J

    Turn and talk, cooperative group work and then jigsawing the ideas in a large group, share a fact that you have not already heard, write and show your answer on whiteboard – all some techniques used in class for student engagement. Would love to have more great ideas!

  90. Casey Campbell

    I teach 8th grade math. (not many middle school students love math so engagement can be a challenge). I do an activity I call “Speed Dating” where I put my desks in 2 circles (one inside the other so the students are partnered up). I give them 3-5 minutes to work as many problems or go over whatever concept we have been discussing. After the timer goes off the inside circle rotates while the outside circle stays put. The time constraint adds a sense of urgency so they don’t play around- they get right to work. The rotation gives them an opportunity to work with a variety of different partners- people they wouldn’t normally choose. I get to hear some really great conversations and explanations. Every time I do this activity nearly 100% of my students are engaged and all score better on their assignments. The students love it because they don’t have to listen to me talk. I shared this with other teachers in my building and it has worked in the science, social studies and language arts settings.

  91. Missy

    I have problems with students shouting out answers. I remind them to raise their hands but they think since they know it that they are the only one to know the answer and even seem to forget others are in the room and act like we are having a one-on-one conversation. I remind them to raise hands but they get excited and shout. I will call on someone who raised their hand ignoring the shout out thanking the person for raising their hand but I still have trouble getting those who don’t want to participate into the conversation. They try to hide and hope I wont call on them.

  92. Shelly Lillie

    My greatest struggle is having one or two kiddos answer for the whole class! I like to have my students names written on popsicle sticks. This book sounds like a great find!

  93. Diana Collier

    I believe most students lose interest because what they are learning is not fun. If students are having fun, they are more inturn to participate, and thus stay engaged. I use what I learned in college from one of my most effective instructors, who has over 30+ years in education. It’s called “Gallery Walk.” I post chart paper, that is labeled, on each wall of the room before students arrive, and post-it-notes are given on each desk(I make it fun by using the “funky colors”), enough for them to post one on each chart. (Certain sticky note colors are given purposely. For example, yellow would go to my ELL students, blue to my Struggling students, etc. I’ll explain why later). I also place 4 different-colored lifesavers(one on each desk). Students who have a green lifesaver know to go to the chart that’s titled “GREEN,” and so on. This allows for a smooth transition and not everyone crowding a particular chart. I play soft music(something they might like) to begin and end the activity. They get up out of their seats and go from one chart to the next. Students must answer critical thinking questions pertaining to the concept/topic, etc. After the music stops, they return to their seats, eat their lifesaver, while I take the notes and then we have a class discussion on their answers. They can’t wait to hear what everyone wrote, but no one is allowed to say who wrote what. The best part of this activity-its anonymous! So, my lower-achieving and English language learning students can participate in a structured and safe environment, and I can assess what all my students are learning. My students always ask if we are going to do “Gallery Walk!”

  94. Jocelyn

    I try to share with a neighbor before I ask for the final answer. This allows students to check that they have the correct answer. I also use thumbs up, thumbs down to check for understanding the steps, or instructions before moving on. This allows me to see whom I should check with before I smart small group work.

  95. pat

    We always allow 30-60 seconds of “think time”, during which no one can raise their hands to answer. This gives my struggling students more time to get their thoughts together, and allow more class participation from all. This simple technique has increased class participation greatly in my grade 3 classroom this year.

  96. Melanie Ganes

    I love using the Kagen Strategies in my fifth grade classroom. These strategies get the kids engaged and each person is accountable for their own individual work even though they are working in groups! The kids look forward to working together and they always want to know what “Kagen” we’re going to do….love them :)))

  97. Justin Greene

    I use many different Kagan structures to keep students engaged in my classroom. Kagan structures like round robin, rally robin, find someone who, quiz-quiz-trade, etc get all students involved and participating.

  98. Sunny

    I use Turn and Talk and clock partners to try to keep my students engaged. However, I struggle with keeping all of my students engaged this year — many of my students just tune out no matter what. I could be juggling in front of them and they’d be zoned out. It’s discouraging when they don’t pay attention to the best lesson ever planned.

  99. Bonnie Joseph

    My kids have a hard time with many literacy skills and are very hesitant to volunteer answers. I try to encourage them by letting them know that all aswers are acceptable and that no one is permitted to laugh at an answer. This is somewhat successful at best.

  100. Lori

    I use tongue depressors labeled with each child’s name printed on it. I place them in a can and randomly draw a student’s name to answer. The students can’t wait to see who will get called on next. This assures that I don’t repeatedly call on the same student.

  101. Amy

    Our school focus these last few months has been on different all pupil response techniques and i have to admit I’m struggling! I do lots of thumbs up/down, individual whiteboards, report on your partner, etc. I could really use this book to help me! I’ve passed the name on to our coach to see if we could get it as a school.

  102. Julie

    I will be starting my new (third) career as a teacher this fall and I can use all the help I can get!

  103. Bridget Castelluccio

    I use multiple techniques each day for sharing ideas. We pull name sticks, share with partners, four corner answers, sticky note answers placed on chart paper, drawing responses, movement signals for answer choices, activotes for the promethean board, whiteboards and anything else I can think of. Since I use so many various ways to answer questions, the students are highly engaged because they never know what I might say to do to share the answer. The most important parts that I emphasize are think times, explaining answers, and feeling good when your reponse is not correct but you figure out what is the best answer.

  104. Erin

    Wow, I was thrilled when I came across your blog. I had no idea that William and Persida Himmele wrote a book. A few years ago William Himmele, or Dr. Himmele as I know him, was my professor. He was one of my most inspiring professors and incoorporated these techniques into his lessons with college students. He made sure that whatever he taught in his courses were applicable to the realities of teaching. These techniques are highly motivating to students of all ages. The techniques provide students the opportunity to be responsible for their learning and become engaged in higher level thinking. It looks like I’m going to have to put this book on my wish list. Thanks for the post!

  105. Belinda

    I just completed a professional development class centered around this topic. We gained a lot of GREAT strategies that focused on deepening student engagement. I have used many of the techniques mentioned in the previous comments, and I’m excited to try new ones. I would venture to say one of the more effective strategies is the use of Wait Time I and Wait Time II. I teach 2nd grade, and before I started intentionally using it in my classroom, my students and I had a conversation about the purpose of wait time. They immediately saw the need for it and now they will even correct me if I do not offer them this precious thinking/connecting time.

  106. 2dog

    Love the TPT folder idea! Need to build a repertoire of ideas to stop letting kids off the hook!

  107. Stephanie

    This looks very interesting! Would love to read it all!

  108. Tammy

    I am a huge fan of learning stations and using individual white boards to encourage participation.

  109. Nichole Rozakos

    I’ve always used call and response systems in class that I created to keep my class interactive and the kids participating. I heard about TPT on an online blog, and have been researching and watching videos ever since. This would be a great addition to my classroom.

  110. Veronica

    I struggle with not calling on certain students when asking what I feel is over some student’s level. I would love to read about some techniques and strategies to use in the classroom to get all my students where they need to be.

  111. Michelle Reinke

    I have students signal responses (agree, disagree, not sure). I have students think, pair share, and whisper their response to a neighbor, me or the ceiling. I use white boards and have them hold up their responses for me to check.

  112. Alicia

    My kids love to call on each other, so I try to offer opportunities to do that. We do reviews “popcorn” style, or I will just ask a student to “pick someone to add t0 your answer.” This seems to get them all actively participating.

  113. Joni Smith

    Our district encourages us to use all pupil responses such as thumbs up/down, turn and talk, think, pair, share, fairness sticks, etc. Sometimes I will have students write responses on white boards. We work protocols where students talk and work together to come to a choice or answer. We encourage students to defend their thinking, telling us how they know they’re right. I am interested in reading this book; sounds like a good summer read!

  114. Peggy

    To encourage participation, I encourage collaboration and presentations in small groups where each student has a role!

  115. Angela

    I use whiteboards for students to respond and hold up answers, pull sticks with student numbers to randomly call on students, and have students think, pair, share thoughts.

  116. Kelley

    I work in a centre for disengaged teens. I love any and all support to help me create a successful environment for these kids.

  117. Chrissie McKinnon

    individual white boards during math

  118. Jeanne

    One of my favorite methods to involve students is to periodically have them turn and reteach a small part of the lesson to their partner. One student teaches while the other listens and then they switch roles. This allows me to circulate the room to see just how well they understood.

  119. Rita

    I would love to win the Total participation book. With a third grade class as large as mine, I have a very difficult time getting everyone on task and still showing parents that they are progressing. Thank you for all that you do to help.

  120. Dan

    As an elementary teacher, getting consistent and meaningful participation from all (or even a majority of) students in a class or even in a small group is a constant challenge. I’m a new teacher; this stuff isn’t explicitly or effectively taught in college teacher prep (at least at my school, at Masters level), and it’s hard to find time to learn from veteran teachers with whom I work, if they even have effective techniques themselves. A book like this definitely sounds like it would help immensely.

  121. Fran Long

    This book looks like it has a wealth of ideas for keeping my kids engaged and participating!

  122. Joyce Jasso

    This sounds very intriguing; I’ve always wanted my 1st and 2nd graders to be able to be actively engaged in the lesson and with each other during lessons. My struggle has always been doing this within time constraints. I’m also fascinated to see techniques that can be taken with them to the next grades.

  123. Kelly Woessner

    I’m really interested in reading this book. Thanks for sharing! To help students participate more actively during math meeting, I give all students the opportunity to try the math meeting items on paper before we do math meeting. They then bring their papers to the meeting. This allows all students to participate, not just the student of the day or the student who raises his or her hand.

  124. Theresa Lindstrom

    I find that using “partner talk” can be an effective way of getting all students to participate and to expand their answers because they can learn from their partner. If you are not familiar with the strategy, it pairs two students and gives them a sentence starter to use in answering the question. When time is up, a student is called on to tell the class WHAT THEIR PARTNER SAID.

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