Technique 22: Cold Call

Key Idea: In order to make engaged participation the expectation, call on students regardless of whether they have raised their hands.

  • " How can I adapt my decisions about which students I call on to help all my students pay better attention?"
  • 4 Benefits to Cold Calling:
                1. Allows you to check for understanding effectively and systematically at any time whether the student is offering to tell you.
                2. Increases speed in both terms of your pacing and the rate at which you can cover material. No more waiting for students to offer up a response. Keep them on their toes and ready to answer at anytime.
                3. Allows you to distribute work more broadly around the room and signal to students not only that are likely to be called on to participate, and therefore that they should engage in the work of the classroom.
                4. Helps to distribute work around the room not only to those who always raise their hands, but as an authority to reach out to individual students whom need to be more engaged.
  • Key Principles to Cold Calling: Predictable, Systematic, Positive, and Scaffolded.
-Predictable- If you use Cold Calling a few minutes each and everyday, students will come to expect it and change their behavior in advance by paying attention and readying themselves mentally.
-Systematic- Questions come at students quickly, clearly, and calmly, in clusters directed to multiple students, in multiple locations around the room, rather than focused on a single student or a group of students in isolation.
-Positive- Students do not volunteer because they do not think they can answer, but when forced to try, they are happily surprised to find themselves succeeding. Teachers must show respect and have faith in students and keep the atmosphere positive.
- Scaffolded- Start with a simple question and progress to harder ones, drawing students in, engaging them on terms that emphasize what they already know.

  •  Hands Up/Hands Down- Students can continue to raise their hands if they wish, or you can instruct them them to keep their hands down. Hands up allows a teacher to continue to reward students who want to participate, and hands down sends the message that the teacher is in charge and everyone needs to be prepared.
  • Timing the Name- "Question. Pause. Name. " This format ensures that every student hears the question and begins preparing an answer during the pause period. If you call a name first, it lets all other students off the hook and they check out for the moment.
What are your thoughts?
Think of your critical practice class and recall a time that your co-teacher used cold calling to engage the class. Did you find it helpful? Were the students "on their toes"?