Do you require your students to participate?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Aug 12, 2012

    I know in the past, we've all had teachers who have had a "Participation" portion of the grade (although what that constituted was generally very vague--should I raise my hand once or twice every week? every day?).

    Some see participation as a necessary life skill that they should probably learn to use before they start college. Others see requiring participation as coercion, and being unfair for shy kids.

    What are your thoughts on this issue?
     
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  3. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I have a participation grade that works as follows:

    Each quarter, students get 100 points in the participation category. They start with this full amount, and can lose them as the quarter progresses. Students lose participation points (usually just one or two a day, but I can deduct more at my discretion) for things like: coming unprepared, not contributing to group work, refusing to do classwork/practice work (which is not graded), etc.

    I also factor in participation in discussion, but this is not on a daily basis. I tell the kids that I expect them to contribute to discussion at least ONCE per week. I keep track of this with my iPad, which I carry around the room as I teach. If anyone doesn't participate at all, all week, then they will lose five participation points.

    That's a rough explanation of how the system works. I have it detailed out on a handout that the kids get, but that gives you a basic idea.
     
  4. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    I am naturally a shy person and never participated in full group discussion. If I knew that I HAD to, I either would just take the lower grade or I would focus and stress out the whole time about raising my hand, therefore missing a lot of material.

    I went to a big school so things might have been different if I was in a small school always with the same people. I do make my students participate, but in ways they feel comfortable, whether that be whole group discussion or small group work. I will also sometimes make them write answers to questions we discuss in their notebooks and I count that as participation.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I think that participation involves far more than raising your hand and responding in front of the class. I have students who receive "E" for excellent in participation without raising their hand more than once or twice during the term. When considering participation, I consider: is the student prepared for the class/activity? Do they follow directions? Do they complete all activities? Are they active during group (large or small) activities? Are they following/listening actively during class discussions? Do they respond in writing?

    Conversely, I have students who constantly have their hands up who receive a lower level in participation.
     
  6. Luke8Ball

    Luke8Ball Rookie

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    I really like your system. I'll definitely plan on using this in my student-teaching. :)
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I teach math.

    Every kid in my class is expected to be on task, doing the problems I've asked them all to do. In my book, that's participation.

    I do NOT require students to raise their hands and volunteer answers in order to be counted as having participated. Too many kids are unsure of themselves in math, or are simply shy. I can usually tell who has the right answer simply by the looks on the faces, or by the quizzes I give a couple of times a week. I don't need those raised hands from the kids who would prefer not to offer them.

    So, YES, you need to participate. But NO, it need not be aloud.
     
  8. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Mine is very similar to Alice's system. Everyone participates to the extent they are able, even if it's following along. Most of my kids are so broken-down from years of struggling in school, they are terrified to answer out loud.
     
  9. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    I do.

    But, I know some friends are shy so I incorporate non-verbal ways to participate. (hand signals, dry erase boards, partnering with a friend for discussion)
     
  10. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I don't actually have participation be a separate line in a student's grade. However, their grade will reflect if they were using class time wisely and prepared for class.
     
  11. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I do occaisionally give a participation grade, but as part of a project or activity. I've never given one as a stand alone grade. At my school I would have to have a tremendous amount of documentation to be able to give one.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I do not have a participation grade, but I do expect my students to raise their hand during classroom discussions. I often use the phrase "Take a risk"...and then regardless of their answer, I commend them on taking that risk.

    I also teach the others in their table groups to say things such as "Well done!", "Good try!", or "Awesome effort!".
     
  13. mrsenglish

    mrsenglish Rookie

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    I do similar things with participation as previously mentioned. While I do consider participating in small group and large group discussions towards participation, I also factor in bell ringers and journaling that I collect once a week. Students do not often have points deducted unless they are flat out not participating in class at all-- they don't collaborate with groups, they aren't working efficiently, they don't complete their bellringers, etc. I try to factor in what I know about each student as well-- for kids who I know are shy and hate speaking in large groups, I look for their participation in class in other ways. However, the loud kid who has something to say about everything other than what we are working on might have points deducted if they never participate in class on topic.
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I don't take it for a grade but I do make sure every kid answers something at least once a week. I include opinion questions with their homework that I know anyone can answer and then will call on someone who usually doesn't talk to answer that one. For example, when reading The Outsiders, I might ask what they would buy at the store if they were hiding out and make them list at least three items.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Okay. So it seems like many of you count preparedness and on-task behavior as participation.

    How about participation in large and small group discussions as a few of you have mentioned. Do you expect them to contribute verbally? Do you let them simply contribute by doing silent writing instead, or what? Basically, are they expected to actually discuss during discussions?
     
  16. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I don't give a grade specifically for participation, but as an English teacher, I do expect students to engage in discussion about the literature we're reading or cooperate with their classmates on peer editing, etc. Some of the assignments simply can't be done without communicating, but as that is one of the basic pillars of an English class, I think it's fair.
     
  17. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    The only time I grade students on verbal participation is when I do Socratic seminars. Even then, if students don't speak, they can make up the points in other ways. (The participation part is 40% of the seminar grade. If students feel they didn't contribute or if they missed the discussion, I have an alternative essay assignment that they can do.)

    Also, when students are working in small groups I expect that all of them are on task and contributing equally. I will sometimes walk around to ensure this and factor that into the grade.
     
  18. mrsenglish

    mrsenglish Rookie

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    Yes, they are expected to contribute verbally, but not every large group discussion. Small group discussions they are required to participate, but I find that my quieter, shy students have no problem with this (thus far) and the students also evaluate each other on participation in the group, as I do as well. Students can participate in small groups in other ways, like contributing ideas, taking the notes, coming to class with questions for discussion, etc.
     
  19. tootgravytrain

    tootgravytrain Comrade

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    Nope, not in my situation. But if they (prison inmates) don't want to participate and just get their mandatory 6 months requirement over with and get out, they'd better stay the hell out of the way of those that do.

    Compulsory education is stupid, and compulsory education in a prison is beyond stupid - it's insane! We have so many who get put in school and they just got down with 30 years to life, and we expect them to give a rip about school at that point?

    So no I don't force them because it wastes everyone's time. I remember after I started there I got a dude they called "DDT" assigned to me and he never showed up! hahahaha Probably best for me. On the other hand, I at that same time got "Big Dave," who'd already done 30 years! He said to me, dude, I've already gotten out of this twice before but I'm gonna do it this time so they quit bugging me! Don't expect me to do NOTHIN! And he did as he said although sometimes he got involved in stuff, especially math, which the guys in the joint seem to really like. I learned a lot about prison life from him, but his stories would get me banned from this forum in a hot second! hahahhahaaahahaa
     
  20. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    For my math classes, I do a lot of "My Turn--Your Turn", i.e. I work through a problem and then give them one to try. I expect them to give it their all, and I frequently call on students randomly, however; if a student says "I don't know" or gives me a wrong answer, I don't just move to the next kid. I work through it with that kid so that they do eventually give me the right answer even if it was very guided.

    As far as grading participation, I plan to require ONE problem presentation per student THE WHOLE YEAR. Once a week I like to have students come to the board and share a solution to a problem. Usually 2-3 students will come up. I plan to give full credit for a good effort on this presentation, and it won't count until fourth marking period even if they presented first marking period.

    In addition I expect participation in group work etc, but it is not graded.
     
  21. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    We aren't allowed to grade participation. I do expect them to try their best and to attempt every problem I give them. They know this.
     
  22. Opal

    Opal Companion

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    For those of you giving a participation grade, is that included in the academic grade, or conduct?
     
  23. mrsenglish

    mrsenglish Rookie

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    Academic-- I toss it in with homework.
     
  24. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Participation is on the school report card, so my students do get graded on it.

    I don't like to randomly call on students who don't have their hand raised because I HATED getting caught off guard like that in school. Instead, I will often have my student do a "turn a talk" on the rug before they share out. I walk around and listen to the students discussing their answers with their partner. (All students must participate in this, it's never really been a problem though.) If I heard a good answer I will often request a student participates and shares their answer. Usually they will be fine with participating once they know I already approve of their answer. I do the same thing with sharing their work. I will look at their work before they return tot he rug and say, "wow I really like the strategy you used to answer that question, can you share it on the rug?" Again, they'll oblige more often than not, even if it's a particularly shy student. If they say no I say "maybe next time" an try to encourage them more the next time.
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I like the idea of doing a pair-share before a large group discussion.

    When it comes to an activity where large group discussion is required, I give them a pre-write by making their Kick-Starter question about the topic the discussion will be on, so they'll have an idea of what they want to share. I think I'd like to let them first share with a partner their ideas, to get more comfortable voicing them out-loud.
     
  26. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    How are some of you keeping track of participation when it does count as an academic grade? Seems like a lot if you had to make a note of it for every kid. Do you just make notes for the ones who don't participate and do you do it daily, weekly, or quarterly?
     
  27. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    With standards-based grading, there isn't anything in the grade other than progress to the standard. Plus, there are plenty of ways to participate in class without raising a hand and answering a question orally.
     
  28. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Participation in my class is 200 points a semester (a test grade; 100 points at midterm and 100 points at the end of the term). It includes showing up to class prepared/on-time, completing non-graded group work, and participation in our online forum and participating in daily discussion. Non-verbal students know that they can make up for participation by emailing me or posting more often online. It does not included any type of mock trials, socratic seminars, or days I devote solely to student discussion, those days are given a separate grade.
     
  29. mrsenglish

    mrsenglish Rookie

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    Usually, throughout a week, I make notes as I'm walking around observing. All students start with all participation points, and as I notice various things, the score may go down. I usually take notes-- sometimes it can be as easy as pluses and minuses as I notice who is and is not participating. I give them an opportunity to work on that or chat with me about if they are not participating mid week-- I don't just slaughter their grade because they aren't participating, I usually try to get an idea of what's up. Sometimes they aren't participating for a valid reason and I like to give them the opportunity to express it. It's not much extra work. I have a print outs of my class lists always on a clip board and I keep track of different things, like who has turned in a form or whatever, so the participation just gets another column.
     
  30. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I don't take notes on it. I only grade them 3 times as we do report cards in Nov, Mar and June. There are a few different categories. I can't remember them off the top of my head but one involves waiting their turn to speak, another has to do with building on someone else's response, and then there's a general participation I think. We grade 1, 2, 3, 4. 1 is below, 2 is approaching, 3 is on grade level, 4 is above. It's pretty subjective I guess but by the time the first report cards come around in Nov I know the kids well enough to grade them on this.
     
  31. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I agree with this. Students must pay attention, join in small group sharing and be prepared. Shy kids can do great in a class like Mrs.C's.
     

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