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Popsicle Sticks

This discussion technique ensures that all students have an equal opportunity to participate and share their responses in class. The randomness of drawing a student’s name using the Popsicle Sticks method also helps with classroom management.

How to use

1. Create

Make a Popsicle Stick for each student by writing each name on a popsicle stick.  Use a cup or mug to hold the Popsicle Sticks for the entire class. If you assign each student in the class a number, you could put a number on each popsicle stick instead of a name.

2. Select

After posing a question to the class, draw a stick out of the cup. The person whose name or number you’ve drawn will answer the question. If he or she wants more help or support on the question, draw another stick. Then, the initial student must repeat what the second student said (assuming the second student gave the correct answer), so that the initial student is unable to “opt-out” of answering.

When to use

Use Popsicle Sticks at any point in the lesson to increase engagement of all students and to show you value each person in the classroom. Use the sticks to:

  • Ask interest questions before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge
  • Randomly call on students to gauge understanding during or after a lesson
  • Assign groups or tasks
  • Decide who will receive a special privilege

Variations

Make Your Own Popsicle Stick

Have students create and decorate their own popsicle stick.

Name Generator

An online name generator can create the same effect as Popsicle Sticks.  Here is an example of one to try:  http://classtools.net/education-games-php/fruit_machine/

Popsicle Stick App

Apple has an app for the iPad called Stick Pick that functions like Popsicle Sticks in your classroom – with some neat additions to the functionality! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stick-pick/id436682059?mt=8

I'm Done

Create an “I’m Done Cup” for students to choose from when they finish early.  Sticks in this jar would be labeled with a variety of tasks students can do, for example: write a letter to a teacher, read a book, write a picture book, practice spelling, work with math flash cards, study vocabulary, etc.

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