Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Make a Quiet Class Talk

I have this quiet class.  This awkward, boring, quiet class.  I walk in the room after hall duty, say good morning to my class and then hear crickets chirp.  Sometimes, when my lesson finishes about 5 minutes before the bell rings, I give the class free time.  This class sits there and stares at the clock.  Lucky for me I have the same course later in the day and that class talks, and participates, and brainstorms with each other.  So, I know it's not me entirely.

I've tried partner work (there are tables in my room, so the students always have a partner) - nothing.

I've tried problems where they are forced to talk to each other because the work on their paper depends on the work of their partners paper - nothing.

I've tried group work with 3 or 4 people - a little better, the students talked but minimally.

I've tried a mathalicious lesson where opinions are encouraged - no one had an opinion.

Finally, I asked the students to write down the names of the students in class they would talk to.  I created a seating chart based on this and finally, finally, they talk.


  1. Sounds a lot like my first hour.

    I made students ask me a question one day in class, worked well, I blogged pros cons. Could get the ball rolling. I understand how it can really change the flow of a class.

  2. I have a class like this. I teach 5 others that are plenty engaged. It's very strange.

  3. I had a class like that once and started offering extra credit (very minimal) for any student who pointed out a mistake or made a particularly brilliant observation or asked an insightful question in class. At first I was very liberal and they started talking. Then I cut back on the EC, but they kept talking. Now that is a staple in all my classes. However, I have a class this year that I can't get to talk. And they picked their own seats. So now what?