Quick Whole Class Active Engagement Strategies

Active Student Engagement Techniques: Whole Class Checks for Understanding

Choral Responding

  • Teacher asks for a word or phrase to be repeated.
    • Example, "Who was the President at that time?" Response: "Lincoln"; "6 +4=?" Response, "10!"

Heads Together

  • Teacher asks students to confer with a partner or group to solve a problem or reach a conclusion quickly; follow up for answers using random call with sticks.

White Boards/Individual Cards

  • Teacher asks for a word, short phrase, or number to be written and held up to view.

Cloze Read (Teacher) and Repeat at Pause (Students)

  • Teacher and students have same written material. Teacher reads and pauses, and all students state the next word.

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

  • Teacher asks for a yes or no type of response with students showing thumbs to signify "yes" with thumbs up, "no" with thumbs down.

Finger Voting

  • Teacher asks for decisions, e.g., "if you think Peter will win the prize in our story, hold up your index finger, if you think Jose will win, hold up two fingers, if you don’t know, hold up three fingers; ready, SHOW!"

Think, Write, Pair Share

  • Teacher asks for reflection, pauses, then requests a brief written response; then asks for the answers to be shared with a partner, then asks for the partners to share with another pair.

Teach Your Partner

  • Assign student to be number 1 or 2.
  • Ask all "1"s to teach something briefly to the "2"; often later asking "2"s to teach something to a "1" after teaching the skill.
    • Example: after providing instruction, teach your partner how to subtract 7 from 22.

Total Physical Response Energizer

  • Teacher physically cues student by raising hands high after she says, "class". Students copy the hands up movement. Teacher follows with a physical action (e.g., wiggling, bringing hands down on the desk, stomping feet, etc.), students copy. Repeat as desired.

PALS Read and Process

  • "1" decodes in whisper; "2" processes according to teacher direction (e.g., paraphrases, states big idea, gives personal relevance, etc.); switch roles.


Original document created by Diana Browning Wright, adapted here to ensure accessibility.

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