Book Review: Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner by Persida Himmele & William Himmele
One of my goals this year was to involve my students in my lessons and learning as much as I possibly could. This book is full of practical suggestions on how to get students more active and involved in class. I found it to be extremely helpful and full of ideas that are easy to implement in many different situations and for multiple ages of students.
Some ideas were simple, such as to have a group answer at the count of three, or to walk around the room while students are working on individual answers and encouraging them to write on a deeper level. While others were more complex, such as having student interviews and presentations, almost all of them are practical for classroom use in most situations.
Before any of these will work well, the authors point out that having a classroom culture where students feel safe enough to participate without being ridiculed by other classmates will really help these suggestions work better. Also, making constant assessments so that we as teachers can observe growth, and validating students to build their confidence, making them more likely to share and participate in the future, can greatly help the process of involving students in our lessons.
I appreciated the variety of techniques presented as it gives me more “tools in my toolbox” that I can use while teaching my students. The authors encourage teachers to try to use one of these or something similar every ten minutes. That’s a tall order, but anything we add, even if it’s small, will help us to grow as teachers. Here are listed a few of these participation techniques with a brief description of each.
I found Total Participation Techniques to be a very helpful resource because it describes many ways to get students involved in class, and it gives practical examples on ways to carry these out in a classroom situation. Involving our students more in our classes and having them participate directly in what we are studying not only creates a better learning environment, but it also increases student retention and understanding of material.