TECHNIQUE #34: CALL AND RESPONSE
You won’t know if your raising the ratio of responses through questioning if you don’t gather some objective data; how about some audible data. Peer to peer momentum, collective enthusiasm for learning, boisterous demonstration of information learned are all key components to Call and Response. Students responding, in unison, to questions can build a collective dynamic of academic accountability, but also invigorate lessons with quick, active verbal compliance. Not exactly “mockingbird” classical conditioning, rather, Call and Response is a more spirited happy way to encourage (expect) everyone to join in the chorus. Much of this systematic training/collective back and forth is extremely useful in the World Language classroom and I feel that a few of the tactics presented are novel and some I’ve used informal with success in the past.
Here are the academic benefits supported by use of Call and Response from Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹,(p.263).
- Academic Recycling: Review and reinforcement of information as a group in some areas-“reinforcing definitions or pronunciation of vocabulary can have a powerful effect.” Verbalization of ideas or terms commits ideas or terms to muscle memory.
- High-Energy Fun: Verbally allowing every one a chance to give the answer, encourages participation, “get’s the motor running”, invigorate class momentum.
- Behavioral Reinforcement: Making “crisp, active timely compliance a habit; establishing peer to peer demonstration of participation, accountability and knowledge.
Here is an example of Call and Response being used to engage the entire class and, deftly, the teacher switches to calling on individual students to check for understanding. The Call and Response trigger is simply, “Class,…”.
All of the Call and Response activities below are initiated with a well established cue from the teacher. Here are some examples:
- Count Based: “One, two….(students in answer here)
- Group Prompt: “Everyone”, “Class”, “Scholars” etc
- Shift in Tone/Volume: Teacher speeds up the pace and volume of the last few word and creates an exaggerated pause for students
- Nonverbal Gesture: Palm extended toward the class, useful when following the preceding step.
(“Listed here roughly in order or intellectual rigor, from least to greatest”);
TYPES OF CALL AND RESPONSE:
- Repeat: Student instructed with a simple command; “Scholars repeat” or hand gesture established that means “repeat after me”.
- Report: Students solve a problem or configure an answer on their own, followed by, “On three, tell me your answer to the problem…one, two…”. Collectively, individuals may not all have the correct answers, be sure to clarify; but it does get them in the mind set to respond verbally to a question.
- Reinforce: (I like this one). Students are asked to repeat a “strong” response” from an individual peer response: “What is this part of the expression called? Yes, Raymond, that’s the exponent. Class, what is this part of the expression called? [exponent].
- Review: Student collectively answer multiple/layered questions to a body of knowledge that they’ve already mastered. (Recycling, all together now, as a group)
What is most attractive about TLAC techniques is the “nuts & bolts” or literal how to’s included in the text, less the theory. In a comparison of texts, the initial edition (2010) was really a straight forward presentation of applied teaching techniques; the ‘2.0‘ edition is a certainly a review and expansion of these techniques, but more involved synthesis of the pedagogy behind them. The expansion piece in this section for Call and Response devotes a section to processing new vocabulary and developing familiarity with definitions and word usage. Expressly, when enunciating a new word for students, (very relevant to the foreign language classroom), use an exaggerated form of Call and Response to enunciate new terms syllable by syllable; students are expected to “mynah bird” the syllabic enunciation. Or, using the definition or synonym of a new term, establish a Call and Response routine that expects the group to respond with the actual new word or its definition, vice versa. In turn, practicing both pronunciation and definition. In closing, this section ends with the importance of ‘Culture Building’; not a very specific definition of ‘culture’, however, reading between the lines I believe the author was trying to suggest that everyone participating establishes a normative expectation that everyone is accountable and able to contribute; that collectivity and contribution in the classroom matter.