I don't know how I came across this article...I was probably searching for more strategies on classroom management ( I can never get enough of classroom management...mainly for my own sanity). The headline of this website drew my attention right away: "Where Hands-Up In Class Is Banned".
I found many of the points made in the article to hold true to my class. I have the SAME students raising their hands to participate and the same students zoning out and not paying attention. It doesn't take long for those students to get quickly behind in the new concepts...giving them more reason to get lost and zone out and, as a result, not participate in class discussions.
After finding this article, I was excited to put it to use because I was so tired of having only half (on a good day) of my students raising their hand to participate. I would try whatever I could think of...I would bribe them with my classroom den dollars, I would pull "sticks" with their names on it, etc. So, after reading this article, I put it into action the very next day in my math classes. I passed out my small white boards and expo pens. We continued to take notes together in our spiral notebooks, but the change came when we worked on practice problems. Instead of having students raise their hands to give individual answers, they all had to write their answer on their white board. I have a bell that I rang when I wanted them to present their boards...and to my amazement ALL of my student's white boards were lifted up. I was able to instantly see how many of students understood the concept and if I needed to provide more practice problems or if they were ready for me to move on. PURE GENIUS!!! I only wish that my principals could have walked into my room at that very moment. All of my students were listening, taking notes, and PARTICIPATING!
I have been using this system for about a week now, and the students still enjoy it. I don't know if it is the fun of writing on a white board, or maybe it is taking away the fear of being wrong and saying the incorrect answer in front of the class. I make sure to not call out any students who have the wrong answer. I only make a comment to tell them an estimated percentage of how many students have the correct answer. Another thing that I have noticed is that it has increased their desire to find out where their mistake occurred if they got the answer wrong.
I totally recommend this system. I also teach science classes, so I imagine that I would have to be much more purposeful in creating questions that students can give a quick answer on their white boards.