I attended your seminars last weekend at the Good Teaching Conference. I asked you after the seminar what you would advise me to implement immediately. You said "the cards." I followed your advice, and, after 4 days of class, my students are sitting on the edge of their seats because they know I'm going to call on them.
I started a new class in US Government this week, and the kids are on their toes. I've never had this reaction from students--some would pay attention but most would slouch around, staring into the middle distance. I want to thank you for this revolution in my reaching and in my confidence! I'll add another tool next week.
Dougherty Valley High School
Introduction (from the book)
Class Cards is a teaching tool from the New Management system of student management, motivation, and involvement. This system is a refreshingly new and incredibly effective approach to the challenges educators face in today's classrooms. Initially developed in 1981, New Management has since undergone more than twenty-five years of classroom-tested refining and improvement. A simple yet efficient system, New Management is easy to learn and fun to use.
Since 1987, I have been sharing New Management's innovative teaching techniques with thousands of educators. The overwhelming consensus is:
New Management works.
From first year teachers to seasoned veterans, from the primary grades to the university level, New Management is enabling educators to teach more effectively and manage more efficiently. At the same time, it's empowering them to make fairness, firmness, and consistency an everyday reality.
New Management offers benefits for students, too. Teachers who use the New Management system provide their students with significant opportunities to become more responsible, productive, and involved. In fact, an increase in the level of student involvement and participation is one of the reasons teachers using New Management say their paper working tasks go down while student motivation goes up. And when students and teachers are really working together, the potential for growth is without limits.
So, in an effort to reach even more educators, I decided to produce a series of teachers' guides. Because of its tremendous popularity, Class Cards was selected as the first technique from the New Management system to be offered in a written format. This teaching tool, like the New Management system itself, is simple and effective. Class Cards will not only raise your level of classroom control, but lower your level of stress: not a bad combination.
To begin with, picture yourself in class. You've just asked a question and you'd like one of your students to answer. Now then, which student should you call on to respond?
Should you call on one of the five or six eager hand wavers? How about asking that underachiever hiding out in the back of the room? Or maybe you should select one of the many students living in the Land of Semi-Involvement.
And while you're pondering this choice, don't forget about being fair. Are you giving everyone an equal chance to participate, or does the lion's share of these response opportunities go to just a chosen few?
Come along, now; make a decision. The class is beginning to get restless. What are you going to do? (Don't answer out loud. This is just a book. I can't hear you.)
Sound familiar? If you're like most of us, you find yourself engaged in this time-consuming, stress-inducing procedure a hundred times a day. Isn't there a better way?
Fortunately, there is.
Visualize a deck of playing cards. (Secondary teachers should visualize a set of 3 X 5 index cards. I'll briefly explain why in the first chapter and then describe a powerful variation of Class Cards, called Record Keepers, on page 48.) On the face of each card you have written the name of one of your students. If, for instance, you have thirty students in your second grade class or thirty sophomores in your fifth period algebra class, you'd end up with thirty cards in your deck. And now, to decide which student is going to respond to the question you've asked, just draw a card and call a name. It's that simple.
Using a deck of Class Cards to call on students during class discussions and learning activities will bring about a dramatic improvement in the quality of education in your room. You'll not only experience a positive change in your morale and performance, you'll witness a definite change in your students, as well.
Almost immediately you'll feel a major reduction in your level of stress. Among other things, this reduction in stress will translate into a sense of renewed energy. Released from the tedium of picking and choosing students to respond, you'll be free to concentrate on the direction, flow, and content of your lessons.
As one grateful educator put it:
"Class Cards was a much needed shot in a very tired arm."
Student motivation will be the next area to undergo a positive change. Due to the surprising randomness of the cards being drawn and the names being called, a deck of Class Cards will generate a wonderful air of anticipation. You'll soon find your students looking at class discussions in a new and exciting way. Teacher-student interactions will almost seem like a game show to them. With a nearly endless variety of "card tricks" available, you'll have the entire class in the palm of your hand, so to speak.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Class Cards will help you establish an equal opportunity learning environment. By promoting, and then maintaining, total class involvement, Class Cards will provide you with the power to maximize the growth and development of each and every student. From the overachievers to the underachievers, from the hand wavers to the seemingly handless, this dynamic teaching tool will boost your interactive effectiveness on a daily basis. With no conscious effort on your part, you'll have the ability to interact with your students in a manner which is fair, firm, and consistent: the hallmark of an effective educator.
This book was written to help you get started. By showing you how a set of Class Cards has met my needs, you'll discover how to meet your own. A technique which is completely open-ended, Class Cards is nearly boundless in its wide range of classroom applications.
Within a few months, you'll be coming up with your own ideas for utilizing the power of this wonderfully simple tool. The more you use it, the better it will get. And the better it gets, the more you'll use it. Class Cards will become an indispensable aid for years to come.
Before too long you'll be asking yourself, "How did I ever teach without my cards?" Having used Class Cards for so many years now, I know I'd be lost without mine.
May they work as well for you and your students.
July 1, 2008
San Diego, California
More Class Cards Info
You'll find a number of additional ideas about using your set of cards by going to the Thoughts on Class Cards and Questions About Class Cards links.