This is a simple strategy from Doug Lemov in his book 'Teach Like a Champion' which I reviewed back in January. It involves asking students not to raise their hand in response to a question but to allow you, the teacher, to do the selecting instead.
A facilitator of one of the courses I was participating in used cold calling and it was a sure-fire way to ensure I was fully engaged; definitely no gazing out the window or dinner planning for me in that course!
And these are the reasons I love this strategy in the classroom....
1. The teacher has the opportunity to ask a specific question pitched at a student's instructional level and to work with the student to provide greater elaboration, if required.
2. The student can take the time to respond to the question without impatient arms waving in front of him/her as other students ready themselves to respond.
3. It ensures that discussion is spread and not dominated by those who think and respond the quickest.
4. It allows the teacher to scaffold students as required, ensuring no 'opt out'. (Read more about 'opt out')
5. It gives students the opportunity to listen and process the ideas of others. (Often instead of listening to others students are too busy formulating their next contribution.)
6. It provides a calmer discussion forum.
7. It helps to keep students actively engaged in the discussion as they don't know when they will be asked to contribute to the discussion.
8. It teaches students the values of patience and delayed gratification and to show respect for the opinions of others.
When teachers implement this strategy by preparing questions in advance and then asking students to respond to the contributions of others with non-verbal gestures (to show agreement, to add an alternative opinion or to further enhance an argument) student learning becomes even more powerful.
Cold calling is not an everyday strategy but certainly has a regular place in class or group discussions. When a discussion is introduced I simply say, "Today I will be cold calling so you will not need to raise your hand. i will call on you when it is your turn to contribute."
Do you use cold calling with your class? Does this strategy appeal to you?