January 2013

Using Hold Ups to Engage Students

by Lynn Fuini-Hetten on January 27, 2013


As some of you may know, there is a small group of teachers at STSD participating in a book study on Total Participation Techniques – Making Every Student an Active Learner.  Through these discussions, participants are learning new strategies to engage learners.

One of the strategies the author introduces is using Hold Ups.  Hold Ups can be response cards, individual whiteboards, or even paper.  Students can create their own Hold Ups with scrap paper, or you can create ready to use sets.  Students can use the cards for selected responses, true/not true/true with modification/not enough information to determine, agree/disagree, multiple choice, or short answer.  Through my conversations with teachers in the book study, we have brainstormed many options.  Using the Hold Ups, teachers can engage students in higher-level thinking and discussion.

For example, students could respond to key ideas to review content from a lesson.  The students could have hold ups of key vocabulary words.  The teacher could provide examples, non-examples, definitions, synonyms, etc. and request students hold up the correct response.  This formative assessment strategy can help teachers see who understands the vocabulary because it requires everyone to participate at the same time.

Hold Ups can also be used to promote conversation among classmates.  For example, an anticipation guide could be completed using Hold Ups.  In an anticipation guide, students respond to key ideas or controversial statements prior to reading or discussing content.  Students could respond via agree/disagree  hold up response cards and then discuss with another student of the same or different point of view.  Having students get up and move around the classroom to find a partner may give students a chance to get out of their seats and stretch for a few minutes.

Using Hold Ups as a management tool may also be helpful.  Students could have a “Ready to Share/Still Thinking” card.  When you are ready to wrap up group talk time, students can indicate their readiness.

I made several templates of hold ups which I have used in various sessions.  If you would like a digital copy, please email me!

To learn more about the book, you may view an archived webinar from ASCD.  (If you want to view only the section on Hold Ups, it starts around 23:00 with a social studies example.)

Have your tried using hold-ups in your classroom?  If so, please share a challenge or success you experienced.  I would love to hear how these ideas are working with students across grade levels.


Rising with the Occasion

by Randy Ziegenfuss and Lynn Fuini-Hetten on January 22, 2013

In early December I had the opportunity to see the movie Lincoln.  I cannot tell you the last time I saw a movie in a theater (besides Cars 2 or some other Disney/Pixar child-focused movie), so it truly was a treat.  As I watched the movie unfold the story of the machinations to bring about the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, I recalled a Lincoln quote used by Sir Ken Robinson in one of his TED Talks called “Bring on the Learning Revolution!”  The following is Lincoln’s quote from the December 1862 meeting of Congress:

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Many of my colleagues and new friends in Salisbury have remarked how my entry into the district has been stormy (I started under the remnant effects of Hurricane Sandy).  And although there have been some difficult and unique situations , the idea of thinking and acting anew in Salisbury is magnified by the district’s administrators, teachers, and entire staff. We may not be fighting a Civil War, or trying to eliminate Slavery, but we certainly are battling to keep public education for the students of Salisbury vibrant, relevant and focused on the whole child.  I hope to continue to rise with the occasion.  How about you?