I have children in my class who never put their hand up to volunteer information. Who doesn’t? Some children will always let the “smarter” children answer. Some just can’t be bothered with the exertion of lifting their arm and keeping it raised for an indeterminate amount of time dictated by the response time of the man at the front.
A few months ago, I read on Twitter about Dominic McGladdery‘s ‘Mug of Misery.’ For those who are wondering what it is, he’s written a great blog post about it. Basically, it’s a pot of lolly sticks with a child’s name on each stick. Instead of the children putting their hands up, the teacher can choose names at random.
I had already been using lolly sticks in my classroom to randomly decide who Gerald The Moose would go home with each weekend when I decided to adapt Dominic’s idea for using the sticks on a daily basis. I told them about how Dominic calls his a ‘Mug of Misery’ but as I wasn’t using a mug, I altered the name slightly and called mine the ‘Tupperware of Terror!’ When I utter these three words, there is normally someone who lets out a little scream or someone who hums some sort of spooky music. If you’re wondering what my Tupperware of Terror looks like, here it is:
Now I’m not into negativity in the classroom, and there’s no getting away from it, the name ‘Tupperware of Terror’ does have a certain negative vibe. However, the children in my class love it when I use it and often ask to use it instead of putting their hands-up. I don’t use it all the time – I do still use the hands-up technique, but I have found that when I use the Tupperware of Terror, the children are much more engaged as they are forced to have an answer ready. Having used this technique for a few months now, it has firmly become part of our day-to-day learning.
In an older blog post, Dominic had also mentioned the Random Name Selector that can be downloaded from this link. I’ve found this great for selecting mixed-ability groups to place the children in.