Using Popsicle Sticks #MTBoS30

So this year I attempted to use popsicle sticks in my classes.


I say attempted because it only was good sometimes and I have better plans for them next year.

I was using them because I read Dylan Wiliam’s Embedded Formative Assessment and it had a part about using popsicle sticks for participation. Using them should keep students engaged, help you hear from every student, creates a safe environment for admitting if you don’t know something, and help the teacher gauge understanding. There are other benefits that Wiliam discusses in Embedded Formative Assessment and Embedding Formative Assessment, which I am in the process of reading. I also read Sam Shah’s post about using them. I really think it’s a great idea for the classroom

I had a few issues with it this year that I will fix for next year:

  • I had students make their own popsicle sticks. Showing their creativity from day 1. However, this made some of them really noticeable, even from afar. Students would notice that I was picking a specific one (or not picking their own) and they could turn off for a few minutes. Next year, just write the name so none stand our.
  • I wasn’t consistent on when I would use the sticks vs. letting students raise hands vs. students just shouting out their thoughts. I like Wiliam’s idea “No hands up, except to ask a question”. I need to be consistent with it and train my students well at the beginning of the year.
  • I didn’t make it clear why I was doing it. This was an issue with a lot of the things I did this year. My students were used to very different things in the classroom. I feel like I could have avoided a good amount of resistance if I just gave students my reasoning. Maybe. It’s worth a try.

J’étais timide en lycée. Mais peut-être j’aurais été plus à l’aise si mes profs avaient utilisé cette idée.


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