Sticks of Fate

Description/Procedure:
    This a more creative spin on an old, tried and true cold call teaching strategy. With this strategy, the teacher will have a cup with Popsicle sticks with a student’s name (or with seat number) on each one. The sticks will be used to call on students randomly to contribute in the classroom. The variety of ways sticks of fate can be utilized in the classroom are endless but some important ways is during discussion, brainstorming, listing out observations, and presenting group ideas.
Encouraging Academic Language Mastery:
    By harnessing randomness to your advantage, the students will feel more accountable to listen to discussion. Students at random may be asked to agree or disagree with previous student responses, which encourages the students to not only listen to the instructor, but to listen to their classmates. This is a great way to encourage active listening during small group discussion by bringing them back together and asking a particular person to summarize what the entire group was talking about. Popsicle sticks are a great modification to random cold-call because it eliminates the chance of students feeling “singled out” or picked on. It is important to consider; however, that depending on the situation and the students, teachers can use the Popsicle sticks as a façade and actually use more strategic cold calling.
Content Area Example
    Science is a discipline that is heavily influenced by collaboration, exploration, and discussion. The sticks of fate strategy will help all of these areas of scientific discovery. First, it will encourage students to work in their small groups to collaborate and come to conclusions that collectively they understand and agree with. Along with this point, it will motivate and push students to learn how to voice their ideas, and the ideas of other in such a way that all students can actively listen and understand their point. During discussion, it is a great idea to use this strategy to encourage student listening to stimulate discussion in which students argue different points, reference evidence or data, and draw conclusions eventually as a class. Scientific vocabulary and academic language can be reinforced using this method by pulling sticks and asking students to build and rephrase their classmate’s statement using more content-specific language.

Adaptation Suggestions:
    In language classes, listening can prove to be very difficult but is essential for their success in learning a second language. Sticks of fate would be a great strategy to use in a language class to improve their conversational skills. As a class, students would be asked to engage in the conversation when their stick is pulled. This will require them to listen to other students as they speak so they know what exactly they should respond to. Additionally, when speaking in another language, the instructor can use sticks of fate to ask the students to translate what they said into English or vice versa.

Source:
Lemov, D. Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (2010). San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishing
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