Goals for this lesson:
Organize your textbooks and materials by number.
Organize your students during disaster drills and field trips by number.
Establish order and fairness when taking turns or playing games with numbers.
Create some wonderfully simple, yet extremely effective, student number tools.
Realize that there are a million ways you can use student numbers.
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I'm concerned that students at the back of the line, the ones with the higher numbers, might resent the fact that they are always at the back of the line. How do I make sure that all of the students are being treated fairly?
Your concern is a well-founded one, and I'm glad to see that you are being sensitive to the needs of your students. After all, we don't want any students to see their numbers in a negative light.
Probably the best thing you could do to ensure equal treatment would be to adjust the order of your students by the date. This means that instead of always having student number 1 at the front of the line or always asking for student number 1's assignment first, you start with the student whose number matches the date. Thus, if today was the 8th, you could start your line with student number 8. The line would then go 9 to n, n being the last student in class. Following the last student would be students 1 through 7.
Should I be concerned about calling upon students by number?
It's okay in certain situations, but I'd be careful about overdoing it. If, for example, you're looking at a Check Off List and verbally identifying the group of students who have completed the assignment, I don't see why you couldn't read a list of numbers. Not only do most students love their numbers but they also know how you feel about them. The strong relationship you've created with your students is more meaningful and important to them than the fact that you sometimes call upon them by number. Also, in their minds, their numbers are synonymous with their names.
Remember, though, that we're trying to avoid the perception that student numbers are going to replace student names. Calling upon students by number when it might be more appropriate to use names might argue against our vow to keep things name-based.
Generally speaking: If you're identifying a large group of students, numbers are okay. If you're calling upon one student or a small group of students, use names.