A Simple Way to Choose Volunteer Readers

raising hand to volunteer

My third-grade class likes to read aloud during our faith formation classes. Fortunately, I have no shortage of volunteers: they all want to take turns reading. While this is a good problem for a teacher to have, it’s not without its drawbacks. I struggle with how to be fair in calling on students to read aloud. Whenever I ask for a volunteer to read, they all squirm and jump around, calling out, “Me! Me! Pick me!” Who do I pick? I can’t reward the loudest, most insistent children over the ones who politely raise their hands and wait patiently for their turn.

The class aide suggested we write each of their names on a popsicle stick and then use them to draw names. I thought that this was a beautiful idea—it is a common teaching tip that school teachers use that would be perfect for managing my faith formation class. We were able to find popsicle sticks in our resource closet, and we quickly set about writing the names of all 21 students on them.

I wondered how the kids would respond to this method. When I told them we would draw names to see who would read, I heard a collective groan. Smiling, I drew the first stick. That student shouted “Yes!” and pumped his fist in the air. Since there were five paragraphs on the page, I drew five names. All five children were excited to read, while the rest of the class seemed content to know they still had a chance to read the next time I would draw the sticks.

Using this method, I realized that a few kids in my class would rather not be put on the spot to read aloud. I hadn’t noticed this before when the majority of the children had been jockeying for me to choose them. The next time I drew names, I decided to first ask the student whose name was drawn if he or she was interested in reading.

The popsicle sticks turned out to be a great idea for managing my class. I could choose the number of readers we needed for the page, put the sticks in order to help us remember who was next, and then ask them to begin reading. When we moved on to the next topic, I selected new readers from the remaining sticks. Thus, all the students who were interested in reading were given a chance.

Drawing names is such a simple idea to most seasoned teachers, but to catechists like me who are relatively new to teaching, it was revolutionary. What simple classroom management techniques do you use to enhance your teaching?

About Lisa Jones 42 Articles
Lisa Jones is a fourth-grade catechist at her parish, St. Angela Merici in Missouri City, TX. She also serves her parish as the director of their Vacation Bible School program and as chairperson of the Faith Formation Council. Lisa blogs with her sister about faith and family life at Of Sound Mind and Spirit. She and her husband are the proud parents of three amazing kids.

2 Comments on A Simple Way to Choose Volunteer Readers

  1. I use this technique for my Christmas play and to select readers for First Communion, just with roles written on the sticks. I then have a sheet with roles on it and fill in names. So much easier, decorative and avoids parents wanting special places for their children.

  2. Wanda writes:

    Lisa, you are right. Classroom teachers use the tongue depressors/popsicle sticks in many ways in the regular classroom. However, I would write a number on each tongue depressor and assign a number (alphabetical order of class list) to each child. In this way I could reuse the tongue depressors over and over for years. Love your posts!

    Wanda Dengel, Ohio

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