Classroom Management Tip: Assessment through Engagement

Every day this week, I am featuring one of Annette Breaux’s classroom management tips and my experiences using them on the first day. I am confident you will take something positive away from at least one of these tips! (And if you do, make sure you let Annette know!)

Today’s tip: Assessing and engaging all at once.

  • In theory: It is problematic to keep an entire group of students engaged when the spotlight is on one student, say, when one is doing a math problem at the board (SMART or otherwise). To keep the others involved and thinking, have them put their thumbs sideways. As they watch the work on the board, they should give a thumbs up (or down) the moment they agree (or disagree). If the student at the board turns around to find thumbs down, s/he can choose a student to present their reason(s) why. The teacher can watch the thumbs and listen to the conversations to assess understanding.
  • In practice: I tried this during word work. We were exploring five new blends in a group of 8 students. On the board were columns for each blend. Students used their books to view pictures corresponding to the blends. As each student came up to spell out a word on the board, I asked the others to monitor with the thumbs sideways/up/down system. They did notice mistakes, and they did get excited for correct spelling. The mistakes made also opened up some great teaching/clarification opportunities.
  • Remember: this also has to be practiced extensively. Also, just because a student’s thumb is aligned the same way as the majority of the respondents, it doesn’t mean s/he truly gets it. Watch for students who watch the others before making a decision.

Try it and share with us how it went!


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