One important classroom discussion skill is learning to call classmates by name.
Although many of my students have been in classes together for several years, they don’t necessarily know all of their classmates’ names. This is similar, I suppose, to the way I know most of the faculty by sight but not by name–a situation I work to correct but somehow never completely remedy.
Other students have recently moved to the area or have recently decided to take my class. These students already feel at a disadvantage just from having to move to a new school for their senior year of high school. I would like to help them adjust in any small way that I can.
Basically, I’m trying to avoid a couple of situations:
- That only a select group of students know each others’ names.
- That discussion becomes a series of pronouns or vague identifiers and pointed fingers: “like what he said” or “what that girl over there said.”
So I make nametags. I guess these are more accurately called “name tents.”
I print these out on cardstock. The students fold them lengthwise into a tent-like shape. Each student writes his or her name on the blank side.
When they are folded, the discussion norms are facing the individual student and the student’s name is facing the class. Students can see classmates’ names and also are constantly reminded of good discussion etiquette.
It seems to work well. The only problem is that students cannot keep up with their nametags and lose them throughout the year. I’m still working on that issue. . .
What strategies do you use to help students learn and/or use each others’ names?