Pick Me!

TECHNIQUE #29:  All Hands

HermioneHandUp166All Hands reads: ‘Leverage hand raising to positively impact pacing.  Manage and vary the ways that students raise their hands, as well as the methods you use to call on them.   Everyone has had that student who needs to answer any question (regardless of whether or not they really know the answer) and every question posed in class.  Struggling to be called upon, question after question, tirelessly holding up their arm, with the aid of their other arm, “Pick me, pick me, I really just want to talk!”, making noises like their doing a strenuous aerobic workout, and exhales audibly when you finally give in and call on them; bewildered and confused they say, “Um, er, I forgot what the question was, but there was this one time my Grandma invited us to Washington D.C. and we saw this statue…”.   Praise be to pedagogy and Teach Like a Champion 2.0 literally gives you permission to cut this behavior off, “guilt free!”.  On the opposite side of the spectrum is the student who painfully avoids being called upon and infrequently raises their hand.  How do teachers go about encouraging students who avoid the lime light to join in the production?  Miracle cures?   All Hands is a means to managing, modeling, and encouraging student hand raising. Here are some of the tenets:

  • Bright Hands
  • Restricting Hands / Participation Rights
  • Valuable Hands / Creating Scarcity, Increasing Value
  • Cut Off Rally Killers

Bright Hands:  Bright = Intelligent and Aware, not shiny.  Bright hands know when to be raised and lowered. This semi-lesson/training is recommended for the beginning of the school year, frequently reinforced over the course of the year.  Ideally, you want many hands in the air for your well thought out, planned in advance, action packed questions.  The hand gesture in this technique is a time saver in the long run.  Without asking over eager students to put their hands down, explain why and thank you, a wordless gesture saves minutes and hours over the course of a school year. How do you model Bright Hands?

  • I. Introduce hand-raising protocol:  Establish that the class is going to have manyimages exciting discussions this year. Indicate that Respect is expected.  Respecting your classmates happens when your hands are down, not raised when another student is responding.  Introduce the gesture that will remind the hand wavers to put their hands down.  Use a hand gesture, pushing the air downward.  All students demonstrate the downward gesture.
  • II:  Model and Practice:  Ask a generalized question everyone will want to answer, (e.g.; How old will you be at the end of the year, what would you like to study in college, what is the most interesting vacation you’ve ever had), saying “As we do that, let’s make sure to practice putting our hands down while others are speaking”.  Model hand gesture.
  • III: Reinforce constantly:  At the start of the school year, incorporate and remind students to show respect by putting their hands down if others are talking, pause, wait for compliance, hands down gesture, then single out any non-compliant students by simply stating their name, repeating the gesture. Establish that each question is a separate event, and that hands should not stay raised, as if to catch one out of a volley of several questions, regardless of what that question might be asking.


old school16Restricting Participation Rights & Valuable Hands:  Make the assumptive sale; announce to the class that you have a selected a few exciting questions after this video clip, and for a limited time only, in a limited amount you’ve got (exactyly #) of questions at the end of this reading.  Another tactic, recommended briefly restricts who is allowed to raise hands (Bright ones) in response: “Only the boys on this one…Okay, now the girls,” or “Wow, the left side of the room is on fire!  I’m going to give someone on the right the chance to step up!“,(p.216)¹.  Genius, create the illusion of “scarcity” of questions which, in turn increases the value of the questions.  Make questions seem more valuable, up the incentive to participate, and practice the art of participation and respectful listening when others are called upon.

Cut Off Rally Killers:  The teacher, asking a significant question of the class, sooner or later calls on the student with a response that is 3 ways to sideways, and just wants to talk.  Perhaps the student that fielded this question was inspired by something, and idea or a memory, related to the question.  “One of the most common ways pacing is destroyed in classrooms is by a long-winded, meandering student comment at the wrongblake1 time….two and a half meandering minutes later, the prior knowledge activation is distant; the mojo has fled the room; and you’ve lost 5% of your remaining time and have to think about scrapping an activity…A long and tangentially unrelated comment at the wrong time is a killer.” (p.219)¹.  Doug Lemov literally writes: “I give you permission to cut such comments off, guilt free!”.  It was such vindicating, professional joy to see that written.  Professionally, here are some suggestions as how to end this type of interaction:

  • Stock phrases, such as “Freeze”, or  “Pause”.
  • Remind student quickly of the original question
  • “Oh, interesting, (name).  Let’s go back to the question.
  • Keep it positive but unapologetic.

The video clip aligned with this technique, I feel is quite uninspiring and somewhat off putting.  The teacher’s manner toward the classroom is rather pedantic; perhaps this is because the “camera” is on.  Instead, I’ll leave you with this video and some interesting online articles vis a vis Hand Raising etiquette.

Additional Notes of Interest on Hand Raising:


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