We already talked about Roll Call— simply calling people’s names from the attendance sheet before class and marking them in or absent, whether or not you use that information. The book Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov talks about threshold techniques, which is the way you greet students as they enter, and DH has picked roll call to be his threshold technique.
Do Now is another technique that can be useful in technical classes. Basically you have a little problem for them to solve that they should be able to solve in a short amount of time at the beginning of class. It’s either written on the board or given in a handout that they pick up as they enter. It’s a way to check for understanding and to get the ball rolling and the brain activated for class.
DH has been talking about the interaction between the two.
Roll call (effectively his threshold technique), strengthens the utility of the Do Now. People show up early for the roll call, and so they’re there to start on the do-now before class. It’s gaining him probably 5 minutes of time on 3/4 of the students. And he can use the time since he’s going right up to the bell every session.
Do Nows and quizzes are pedagogically essentially the same thing– quick checks for student understanding and an incentive to keep up with the material. However, the Do Now has many psychological and mechanical advantages over the quiz. Students like the Do Now better than the quiz. They feel a lot different. They’re less intimidating. And he doesn’t have to grade them. They feel more like they’re for the student learning than the end result of a grade.
He was using quizzes for attendance, feedback to the professor, and an incentive for them to keep up with the material. Now roll-call and cold-calling are filling those needs.
me: I’ve definitely been doing more cold calling. I’ve been trying to learn a new student name or two every class period so that kid gets picked on. Once I’ve picked on them, they’re more likely to ask questions.
DH: I’ve realized that cold calling can be a learning tool, and hopefully that comes through when I walk them through anything they’re struggling with, and the way there’s no judgement on wrong answers. Anyway, off to class.
I hope it went well! Do you think we should allow students to sink or swim on their own, or is nudging them ok?