Up until a few years ago, if a teacher wanted to poll the students in the classroom about any topic, the polling was done by a show of hands. How many students like recess better than Math? All hands go up. Total no-brainer.
While visiting classes at back-to-school night, I noticed book covers from the summer reading list attached to the walls in one of the classrooms. Underneath each book was a sheet of paper with round, colored stickers in red, yellow and green. Turns out, all the students attached stickers to each book to signify if they liked them or not. Green for Yes, Yellow for So-So, and Red for No.
Now that’s my kind of polling. It’s somewhat anonymous, yet visually appealing and easy for everybody to understand. It also gets 100% participation and is effective at communicating the desired result – what do the students REALLY think. A bunch of green dots means the book was a hit. Too many reds and it’s time to find a new book for next summer’s list.
Keeping things anonymous is the way most kids prefer to have it in a classroom. Unless you’re the kid that knows all the answers, in which case, your hand is always up and waving furiously.
Kids with learning disabilities almost always like to keep things anonymous, especially when it comes to answering questions. While some are hyperactive most of the day, there’s always the fear of that awkward moment…
As we progress out of the analog, old-school way of doing things, and transition into the digital age, polling students will become more anonymous. And effective. Teachers will be able to ask a question and get the results of the class immediately. Some schools can already do this, and it promises to be good for all students, even those who struggle.
For now, it’s not a reality for most of the country. But there are things teachers can do to lighten the load, and embarrassment, for students who struggle in school. Richard Lavoie is the King of understanding how Processing affects kids with learning disabilities and offers some great tips in his F.A.T. City Workshop video.
Teachers know which students are having trouble and for the most part are accommodating. Seating at the front of the classroom helps, but having a code for LD students is a great idea. It can be something simple like waving their hand when they know, and WANT to answer a question or be called on for input. Ty to work these out with each teacher in the IEP.
Sometimes polling publicly in the classroom can’t be avoided. At least not yet. But it’s coming soon and many students will welcome it.