Simple and Easy Way to Encourage Student Participation During Class

Facilitating student collaboration and getting students to share their ideas with the class can be like pulling teeth. We’ve all stood in front of the class listening to the crickets chirp, waiting for a volunteer.

You see, students are like everybody else, they’re terrified of being wrong. The last thing most students want to do is share their “half-baked” ideas in front of the entire class.

Here’s a simple solution to get them talking. I call it “Pair Share, Quad Share, Class Share”. Put your students’ desks in groups of four, like in the illustration below:

You can use this technique with any homework assignment, classroom activity, or come see any of the engaging reading and writing resources available in our store. The arrows in the image illustrate a progression to get the students talking to each other and build their confidence in their ideas and work.
1. Begin by having them do an exercise independently.
2. After they have completed their work, have them “pair share” their ideas with the person next to them and make additions or edits.
3. When they have completed their “pair share”, have them participate in a “quad share”, and make further additions and/or edits to their work.
4. Ask for a volunteer to share their work with the class. Make them the “teacher”. This works best if you can use an ELMO or some technology to project their work on the screen.

This progression of sharing moves from small to large, and should give them enough feedback and affirmation to feel confident in their work, breaking down the barriers holding them back from sharing with the larger class.