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Love for the lollysticks
February 16, 2012

The basic idea with lolly-sticks is that each student in the class has a stick with their name on. These sticks are then used to select students for lots of different things, a simple idea but oh so effective! You can buy them from lots of places, cheapest are tesco or ebay (or work your way through 200 mini-milk!)

I have heard these referred to as ‘the sticks of doom’ but I prefer ‘the sticks of opportunity’.

Here are a few ideas for using them:

1) Whenever you have a question, instead of asking for hands up, or picking on a student who is almost asleep you just pick a name from the sticks. After a couple of weeks the students realise they could be asked at any moment and they need to have something to say, this means more attentive, engaged students.

2) To make sure all students think about the question don’t pick the name before asking the question. Ask the question, give some thinking time, then pick the stick!

3) If you get the response ‘dunno’ then give students 30 seconds to discuss the question in their pairs or fours and then come back to them

4) Instead of choosing the sticks yourself, pick one out at the start and that student picks the sticks for that lesson

5) Jobs like handing out resources are easily delegated by selecting a stick. They are also great for picking pairs or teams, they can’t argue with the sticks!

6) I use mine when playing bingo (see here for resources), rather than students shouting out answers, or using mini whiteboards, you select a stick and that person answers the question on that slide.

7) These are also good for picking students to play games on the IWB, or hot seat activities

8) You can still differentiate your questions, pick the name and tailor the question e.g. John gets picked and you ask ‘is this a square number?’ whereas Amy gets picked and you ask ‘explain why this is a square number’

9) Use them to pick experts, for those unfamiliar with this concept, you choose six to eight students who come to the front and are taught a new skill – particularly good when doing constructions. These ‘experts’ then go back to their desks and teach their table the skill. Makes a great lesson which students love!

10) These are also great for getting to learn names at the start of the year rather than just knowing the noisy or naughty ones!

In all honesty these sticks changed everything about my teaching and my students’ learning … Stick with them (!) and you will reap the rewards. Get in touch @numberloving and check out our free and premium resources in our NumberLoving Store.

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Sharon Derbyshire





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