A classroom management solution to calling out

Students raising their hands in a classroom while teacher looks out. Text reads The Talking Ball: A solution to calling out in the classroom.

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My first year of teaching was extremely stressful. Maybe you can remember that far back, or maybe you’re in the throes of your first year right now. Sometimes you feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep end of the pool, but no one taught you how to swim. If you’re lucky like I was, you have an awesome mentor at your school. 

My class included students from our DHH (deaf/hard of hearing) program, which meant I had the benefit of co-teaching with my mentor for most of the day. My mentor noticed that one of my struggles in class management was students calling out and talking. So she handed me The Talking Ball. It was a soft, neon yellow dodgeball.

The Talking Ball was a stroke of genius. The rules were simple. You could only talk when you held the talking ball. If you talked out of turn, you didn’t get to use The Talking Ball. It almost seems too easy, right? This simple idea not only had my chatterboxes silently awaiting their turn with their hand in the air, but it also had some of my typically silent students eager to have a turn. 

Flash forward to my 11th year of teaching and The Talking Ball is still a popular part of my classroom. Have I had to put away The Talking Ball? Yes. Do I have to veto student choices (like throwing to your best friend who was yelling your name)? Yes. Do I need to remind students *not* to beam it at someone? *Eyeroll!* Yup. 

But this still works great for checking classwork and having discussions. One thing I especially like is that my students learn to pass it to each other so that I can simply facilitate our discussions and brainstorming by writing notes on the board while they take charge and come up with great ideas. It also helps to pump up the energy and get more hands in the air to contribute an answer.

Have you ever tried something like The Talking Ball? What’s your fave classroom management tip?

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