TECHNIQUE #39: Show Call
Show Call is another simple, yet masterful way to provide students with incentive to produce high quality written work and provides a vehicle for (the ever meaningful) immediate feedback. I really like this strategy and the premise behind it. In the days before document cameras, I feel like implementing Show Call would not be possible; it truly is a 2.0 strategy in terms of available technology; I’ll address the technology toward end of this post. As it reads, ‘Show Call’ : Create a strong incentive to complete writing with quality and thoughtfulness by publicly showcasing and revising student writing-regardless of who volunteers to share.’ I think this is a great means toward making students engage with their and other students’ written work, as well as a strategy toward normalizing the process of constructive criticism and revision. Students really do like to have their work on display, why not make the writing process more visible as well? “Socializing students to revise and edit their work is necessary to teaching them to write and think, but quality revision requires text that those who are editing and revising can edit and discuss.”,(p.291)¹.
Being a huge fan of utilizing authentic learning materials in the classroom, here is a way to integrate authenticity, (current student work) as opposed to projecting a worksheet from the text book, an anonymous pre-corrected sample of text, or teacher generated notes/answers/responses. Scripted, generic examples of perfected text will never have the same impact as viewing and discussing your peers’ works-in-progress.
Here are three questions based around Show Call, when answered, highlight different tactics and goals when using this technique:
- What kind of work do you want to Show Call? Selecting random students work creates the bold message: Everyone is accountable. More teachers tend to select student work intentionally, for three reasons: 1. To model exemplary work. 2. The work contains a common error. 3. The work shows a good balance of strength and weaknesses.
- When do you want to Show Call? The standard practice lends itself to showing student work immediately after a round of in-class writing. Or, use Show Call to break up a longer stretch of writing; showcasing works in progress. Using WOPs is a great tool for leading students back into the writing activity with more refined ideas for revision.
- How many students do you want to Show Call? Selecting one piece of student work is suggested to analyze the “totality” of a finished work/paragraph. Or, “…looking horizontally at the ways multiple students attacked an issue in writing”.
What is of particular importance, in my opinion is, how, you execute Show Call. While our goals are Accountable Revision and Normalizing Revision, it is critical to be aware of how you select and introduce student work. Students, obviously should not feel exposed, overtly criticized; you want students to feel like the collective/public revision process is a means to a positive end and, ideally, that students are left feeling proud of their work. As delineated by Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹, here are two key moments in using Show Call.
The Take: Or, the art of picking up students’ work can be point of tension and possible controversy. There are three basic Take strategies: Random, Direct, and Private.
- The Un-Narrated Take: Walking past a students desk and simply picking up their work to project on the board: It should be done with out fanfare. Doing so casually and frequently, (although this should be discussed at the beginning of the school year, so that students are aware that it will happen), “…tends to suggest that a take is a part of the daily routine, hardly worthy of comment…”, (p.297)¹. Here’s an video link: https://vimeo.com/83539605
- The Finesse Take: Or the Nonchalance take; “unemotionally” use student work, “Let’s look Melissa’s work”. Or Frame a positive announcement such as, “I’m looking for some really interesting work to share” or “Let’s see some work that shows us a solid look at what accurate work can look like”. This is a good transition toward using more un-narrated takes later. Here’s a video clip of this tactic: https://vimeo.com/88289074
- The Ask Take: Privately in a whisper, ideally in a crouched, eye-level position with the student, genuinely invite the student to volunteer their work to be projected. Asking the student for permission, empowers the student to share their work and is a great way to build 1 to 1 connections. “Your work is really interesting, I’d love to share it with the class” or “Can we use this to show the class some important items that I want everyone to pay attention to; it will help everyone out”. You can point out the neatness of their handwriting, the need for everyone to make corrections, or simply demonstrate that there is trust in the process of accountability.
The Reveal: Calling students attention to the board, displaying a series of written student work, not a perfect textbook sample, emphasizes the ongoing importance of revision. “The way you “reveal” written work to the class frames the way students interpret it and sets the tone for the rest of the Show Call…” additionally, “allow students to simulate the editing process…to identify issues they consider relevant. Noting what students observe unprompted can also be a useful source of data.”,(p.298)¹.
- Naming the student: Make Show Call an honor or a reward. This can, eventually, increase incentive for student to produce higher quality written work. “John has come up with some top quality notes”, “Melinda has been gracious enough to let us look at her excellent ideas”, “Tom has really hit the nail on the head, let’s look at his work”.
- Anonymous reveal: Very effective if the teacher is going to project multiple examples of student work. “Let’s look at some of these responses and suggest revisions”, “Let’s make this good work great”, or “Let’s revise these answers to make them even stronger”.
- Expression and Appreciation: Read aloud the student work with careful attention and valuable expression. Use a clear and supportive tone when asking for students to look for ways to improve/correct the work on display. Use dynamic emphasis and energy to emphasize great work. Project sincerity, enthusiasm and appreciation.
Sample Show Call Phraseology:
- “Let’s find two of the best uses of vocabulary in this paragraph”
- “Let’s discuss how we can upgrade this answer”
- “Let’s add some crucial information to this response”
- “How can we add some more technical vocabulary here?”
- “Can you identify what most of us find challenging with this problem?”
- “We all need to fortify this section of our response, let’s build on this example to figure out how to do that”
Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹, truly is a 2.0 text. Everyone in education is aware of the cliche that technology is evolving at the speed of light. When I read the original version of the book in 2010, document cameras were, expensive, not widely available in classrooms and were not considered a necessary piece of technology. Show Call, in effect, did not exist, because the technology wasn’t in place. In terms of time management and the importance of immediate feedback, as you’ll see below, the document camera is the keystone to making Show Call an effective reality. “No document camera in your classroom? So be it. While you’re remonstrating with district higher-ups to provide the single most useful (and pretty cheap) piece of technology in the classroom, here are four ways to do a low-tech Show Call:”¹.
- Over head projector: Using samples from yesterday’s class, make a transparencies of students work.
- Xerox: Make copies of yesterdays work for all students; ask students to make revision at their desks and discuss/revise as a class.
- Mini-white boards: (This one seems largely problematic to me, visibility wise)
- Transcribe: Pick a crucial sample to showcase or revise and write it on the board for the class to edit.
Need some evidence, research or a means to bolster your argument to have a document camera in place in your classroom. Here is an exceptional blog from, ‘In the Classroom, Teachers Using Tech’ , with teacher posts, extolling the virtues of document cameras!!!