Why So Quiet?

The Grade 10 Honors class I have taken over at NHS is a quiet group, which is a shame because they are also an intelligent group! When I first started working with them, I often had them discuss in pairs before sharing out to the class (think, pair, share- but with thinking during the pair work). However, even with the pair discussion, these students were hesitant to voluntarily share with the class. In order to have a class discussion, I had to call on students (which neither the students nor I love) asking them to share their thoughts, but what they would share with class was always brilliant, SO BRILLIANT!

So I had to think: how can I get these students to share their ideas in a less anxiety provoking way? The answer: write then share. It seems so simple, but it worked! I told students to talk first about the work they did for homework. After they talked in their pairs, they were asked to pick one specific thing they discussed and write it on the board, but there was one caveat: there could be no repeats on the board! Students were told that once they wrote something on the board, I would read it aloud and the pairs would explain it further. This meant I was choosing the writing and ideas they put on the board, not them.

What was the result? They were much more willing to share their thoughts, and they seemed much more calm as they shared!

This is obviously just one of many techniques to use with a shy class, so I would love to know what you have tried with your quiet students. How do you get them to share their important contributions with the class?

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