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08.12.13Call and Response: Adding a bit more muscle to a humble and useful tool

c and rIf you use Call and Response in your classroom to keep students engaged, here are some tiny tools to ratchet things up a bit: a stretch and a reverse:

Let’s say you’re a third grade science teacher doing a lesson on states of matter. You want your kids to remember key concepts such as “a solid always keeps its shape” so you do some Call and Response to help students remember those key points. It might sound like this:

“A solid always keeps its… [ Students via C&R: Shape!]” 

Sometimes a teacher might even do that two or three times to help students remember.  But what if you stretched it out a little and each time asked students to add a little more to their Call and Response, as in:

A solid always keeps its… [Students via C&R: “Shape!]” 

Good, scholars, A solid always… [Students via C&R: “Keeps its shape!”]

Good. Can you give me the whole thing, scholars? A [Students via C&R: “Solid always keeps its shape!”]

Then, if you wanted you could add a quick reverse.

So which state of matter keeps its shape, scholars? [Students via C&R: “A solid!”]

Of course you’ll want to use other methods to ensure mastery. Call and Response is a pretty simple and humble tool—great for building energy and engagement and useful in reinforcing key points in a fast and energetic way.  And also clearly needing other tools to follow up and build knowledge.  Even so you can still add tweaks like this to make it stronger at its simple and humble work.

4 Responses to “Call and Response: Adding a bit more muscle to a humble and useful tool”

  1. Paul
    August 16, 2013 at 4:43 am

    My favorite way to use Call and Response is to build associations. Teaching history I always was trying to get my students to recall the basic facts as fast as I could so we could use them to go onto higher levels of analysis without having to take the entire class to memorize content. In my lesson on Enlightenment Philosophers I would use rapid call and response to get my students to associate John Locke with “Natural Rights”, Montesquieu with “Separations of Powers” and Rousseau with “Social Contract.” I would call out the name of the philosopher and they would have to say back to me their main contribution in rapid fire style. I still can go up to students I taught years ago and say John Locke and they will yell back “Natural Rights!”

    • Doug_Lemov
      August 16, 2013 at 11:49 am

      LOVE this idea! Thanks, Paul. I think vocabulary, generally, is a great opportunity for Call and Response…. even up through High School.

    • Erica Woolway
      August 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Agreed! A lot of times teachers are more reluctant to use CandR in High School, but in fact, this type of CandR would really help make dense facts in a history class to really stick. I wish my AP History Teacher used this technique, I might have remembered a lot more!

  2. Lee and Nancy Dougherty
    August 16, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Wow, such a simple tweak!

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