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There are varied and creative strategies to provide students with frequent opportunities to respond (MacSuga & Simonsen, 2011). Typically, they are either verbal strategies, where students are responding orally to teacher prompts or questions, or non-verbal strategies, where students use a signal, card, writing, or movement to respond (Scott, Anderson, & Alter, 2012).

VERBAL RESPONSES. These are familiar teacher strategies that focus on students orally answering a question, sharing their ideas, reviewing or summarizing prior learning, or simply repeating a new concept after the teacher. Two common strategies are individual responding and choral responding

Individual Response. One simple strategy is to use a response pattern to make sure that all students are called on. Many teachers default to calling on eager volunteers, which results in interacting with a few students while others may disengage.

Calling on students unpredictably heightens student attention:

a container of brightly painted popsicle sticks with students names printed on them.
  • Teachers can use the seating chart and call on students randomly, tallying on that chart to monitor the rate of questions presented to each student.
  • Student names can be on strips of paper or popsicle sticks in a can or jar. As questions are posed, a student name is drawn.
  • Using one of the above random call strategies, ask a student to repeat or summarize what the student who just answered said.

Remember to ask the question first, and then pause before calling on the student to respond. This allows an opportunity for all students to think and be prepared to respond.

It is important to note that random selection may cause anxiety or difficulty for some students.  If you know certain students find this aversive, talk to the student about how they might be more comfortable sharing. 

One consideration is to use think-pair-share or other models where individual students respond to each other, then pairs may share out with the group.  This way all students have the opportunity to make an individual response, and it may be less of a barrier for some students.

Choral Responding. Choral responding is a verbal response strategy used frequently in early schools that has resurged in use since the 1970’s. Choral responding occurs when all students in a class respond in unison to a teacher question. Choral responding has been demonstrated at all levels–elementary, middle and secondary grades for students with and without disabilities (Cavanaugh, Heward, & Donelson, 1996; Godfrey, Grisham-Brown, Hemmeter, & Schuster, 2003; Heward, 2006).

To use choral responding the teacher will: 1) develop questions with only one right answer that can
be answered with short, one to three-word answers, 2) provide a thinking pause or wait time for three seconds or more between asking the question and prompting students to respond, 3) use a clear signal or predictable phrase to cue students when to respond in unison, 4) use a brisk pace, and 5) provide immediate feedback on the group response. Questions for choral responding should be prepared in advance and can be visually presented via PowerPoint slides or other visual cues.

Choral responding is best used with questions to individual students interspersed. This mixed responding strategy has an element of surprise and cues students to heighten their attention. It also allows you to assess individual student learning. Additionally, successful use of choral responding hinges on thorough teaching and pre-correction regarding listening, the response signal, appropriate voice tone, etc.