Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner

By Persida Himmele & William Himmele

Chapter 1-The High Cost of Disengagement
Total Participation Techniques (TPT's) are teaching strategies that allow for all students to demonstrate, at the same time, active participation and cognitive engagement in the topic being studies.  

Excellent teachers ensure that students become actively, cognitively, and emotionally engaged in the content being taught.

A TPT mindset can effectively take the focus off of teaching and place it on what, and to what extent, your students are learning.

TPT involves teachers setting the stage for students to demonstrate cognitive engagement in activities that require time to process, to make connections and to interact with peers as well as their teachers.

Chapter 2-A Model for Total Participation and Higher-Order Thinking
Take the time to develop prompts and activities that require the students reflect and use analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  
TPTs require that students make onnections from the classroom content to real life.
This process works best when teachers have thought through the big picture of their lessons and understand what is most important for students to walk away with.
See figure 2.1 TPT Cognitie Engagement Model and Quadrant Analysis
Ultimate goal is that students be able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate using what they know.
Higher order thinking thrives on interaction.
Quick Writes, Quick-Draws, Pair-Shares, Networking, Ranking, Cut-and-Pastes, Chalkboard Splashes, Graphic Organizers, Key-Word Dances, Thumbs-Up When ready, and Bounce Cards all ways for students to process and share their thoughts regarding the prompts.
Activities to teach kids how to think, not what to think

Chapter 3-TPT Tools and Supplies
Create TPT envelopes for storing materials used repeatedly in TPT activities
Use Resource boxes for each cluster of desks(scissors, glue sticks, highlighters, markers

Chapter 4-On the Spot TPTs
  1. Ask students to reflect on a question or prompt (30 seconds)-Use prompts that require students to analyze the various points of view or the components that are inherent in your target standard.
  2. Ask student to pair up or to turn to their assigned partner
  3. Ask them to discuss their responses.
Quick Writes
Time for students to stop and reflect in writing on what they are learning (3-minutes)...May use word banks...May be used as a way for students to analyze ther own metacognitive thinking processes.
  1. Select a prompt that you would like students to address.
  2. Give students a specified amount of time to collect their thoughts and jot down a response (3-5 min.)
  3. Follow this up with a Pair-Share, a networking sessions etc.
  4. Ask students to make connections between concepts and their effect on the world around them.  Use open questions...begin with phrased like, In waht ways....and how might things be different if...Why is this important?...How does it relate to our lives?
  1. Select a "Big Idea" or major concept within your lesson.
  2. Ask students to reflect on the meaning of the concept and create a visual image that represents that concept (3-5 minutes)
  3. Have students share and explain their image with a partner, in a small group, or in a Chalkboard Splash.
Chalkboard Splash (Whiteboard Splash/Chart Paper Splash)-great for addressing big picture/relevance factor (So What?  Why is this important? or use a sentence starter)
  1. Create a sentence starter, prompt, or question for which you would like all students to see all of their peers' responses.
  2. As students generate responses, ask them to copy their responses onto designated places on the chalkboards.
  3. Debrief by asking students to walk around, analyze, and jot down similarities, differences, and surprises using form provided by teacher.
  4. Ask students to get into small groups and share what they noticed in terms of similarities, differences, ans surprises before asking volunteers to share.
Thumbs-Up When Ready
  1. Ask students to reflect on your prompt.
  2. Explain that when they have a thought, or are finished...put thumb up...ready to move on.
  3. Add a Pair-Share to allow time for students to share what they know.
Processing Cards
  1. Give students Processing Cards (see p 40-Ready to Share & Still Thinking)
  2. Students place card in corner of desk...Still Thinking and flip when Ready to Share.
  3. Have in between activity that gives students who finish early an opportunity to apply or extend their learning.
  1. Create similes using some of the topics you are studying.(Ex. "Adaptations are like bank accounts in that....", Think about and create a simile using something you learned about Thomas Jefferson.
  2. Ask students to formulate an explanation for how the simile might be true.
  3. Students share with partners or small groups
  4. Students create their own similes
Model similes for students....bulletin board "(Topic) was like______in that________."

  1. Select items, concepts, steps, events, descriptive paragraphs, or other things that can be analyzed and ranked within your unit or lesson.
  2. Ask students to rank them according to specifies criteria.
  3. Ask students to provide a justification for the way that they chose to rank the concepts.(see p. 44 for example)
  4. Students may pair share their rankings...
Numbered Heads Together
  1. Students count off so everyone in the group has a number.  Confirm that all students have numbers.
  2. After group work is complete call on the student number that will present to the class.
  3. Because they don't know in advance which number will be called all students are responsible for knowing the information discussion.
Thumbs Up/Down Vote-students agree or disagree/Use with pair share in which students justify their voting the way they did.

Chapter 5-TPT Hold-Ups (Interaction-based activities that use response cards)
How Hold-Ups Work
  1. Ask students to think about and discuss their responses to a set of prepared questions.
  2. Before they hold up their cards, have them pair-share or confer in small groups.  They should hold up their cards when told to do so.
  3. Say "Hold Up"
  4. students hold up their cards.  Select students to share their group's rationale for their choice.
  5. Be sure to create and embed questions requiring higher-order thinking in your Hold-Ups.
    Types of Hold-Ups
  • Selected responses...teacher prepares relevant choices (example L (legislative), E (executive), or J (judicial) for questions about federal government.
  • Number Card Hold-Ups-for math cards 0-9 (p.54)
  • True/Not True-includes true, not true, true with modifications for unable to determine (p. 55)
  • Multiple Choice Hold-Ups-A,B,C,D, (p.57)
Chapter 6-TPTs Involving Movement

Line-Ups and Inside-Outside Circles
  1. Prepare questions or prompts that allow for discussion by a pair of students.  
  2. Ask students to stand in 2 parallel lines of the same length or in tow concentric circles.  Ask student to turn and face the person across from them in the line or opposite them in the circle.  
  3. Ask students to refer to their first prompt and take turns taling it over.
  4. Signal to get everyone's attention...Ask students to thank their line-mate and then ask only one of the lines or circles to move two steps to the left so that each person is now facing a different person.
  5. Teacher moves among students in ensure students are interacting and understanding.
  6. Be sure to use questions that require discussion, connection-making, and a justification for student rationales.
  7. Good for on the spot when we want students to debrief...or promote more reflection for a homework assignment.
Three 3's in a Row (example p. 63)
    An activity like Bingo with 9 squares in which students interact with peers and get the peers' feedback on what they should write in the boxes of their template.  Only student may write in the box (so they must summarize what a peer may have told them.)
  1. Prepare nine questions based on the content being learned and type them in a Three 3's in a Row Template.
  2. Students walk around the room asking peers to explain one answer (only one answer) to them.
  3. Students summarize their peers' responses in their box.  Don't let students write in each other's template!
  4. Students find another peer to answer another question and repeat the process.
  5. Go over the answers in class...ask for volunteers to share.
  6. THIS ACTIVITY IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE QUESTIONS YOU ASK.  Use big questions that require students to analyze, synthesize and evaluate components of the concepts.
Networking Sessions
  1. Prepare one to four prompts or questions.  Ask students to reflect on or quick write responses to the prompts.
  2. Ask students to find someone with whom they have not yet spoken that day and discuss their responses to a teacher-selected prompt.
  3. After a time....signal the class to find someone else to whom they haven't spoken that day.
  4. With a new partner ask students to respond to a new prompt.
  5. Be sure to use prompts that require higher order thinking skills.
Categorizing and Sorting-give students a specific number of items or a sort and create a category based on features of the items or list.  Ask students to prepare a rationale for how they sorted.

Appointment Agendas-students create "appointments" with peers by writing each other's names in a specific time slot.  When teacher selects a time, students meet up with the person indicated on their appointment schedule (teacher created.)

Bounce Cards
  1. Select a student with whom to practice modeling a conversation for the class to observe.  Practice with that student before modeling this with the class.
  2. Model the "wrong way" to hold a conversation.
  3. Discuss the following 3 approaches.
            Bounce Cards:  Students take what their peers say and bounce an idea off of it (extend the idea.)
            Sum it Up:  Students rephrase what their peers say and comment on certain parts.
            Inquire: Students ask a question about something their peer says. 

Acting It Out, Role-Plays, and Concept Charades (used for vocabulary and genres)

Simulations (Townshend Arts)
Cut and Paste (prefixes & suffixes)
TPT's during Read Aloud (use Quick-Draw or a Chalkboard Splash in response to a well thought out prompt or prediction type question)

Chapter 7-TPTs to Gude Note-Taking and Concept Analysis
Confer, Compare, and Clarify
  1. Ask students to pair up and "Confer, Compare, and Clarify."  Confer refers to getting together and sharing a one-sentence summary of what they believe was the most important part of the presentation.  Compare refers to students actually getting an opportunity to read each others' notes.  They should compare what they recorded in their notes and what their peers recorded.  Let students know that they are encouraged to "borrow" ideas from their peers' notes and add them to their own.  Clarify refers to students recording any questions they they have regarding what was presented.
  2. Ask pairs to join other pairs, forming groups of four, and share questions.
  3. Ask students to record the questions that could not be answered in the larger groups of four on the board in a Chalkboard Splash. or they can record these on scarp paper or index cards.
  4. Address questions before moving on...
Graphic Organizers and Prepared Packets (guided notes) and
  • Anticipatory Guides
  • Picture Notes
  • Lecture T-Chart
  • 3-Sentence Wrap-Up
  • A-Z Sentence Summaries
  • Pause, Star, Rank
  • Key-Word Dance
  • Debate Team Carousel
Technology Based TPTs
  • Blogging
  • Classroom Clickers
Chapter 8-TPTs as Formative Assessment Tools
  • Formative assessments help teachers evaluate students' knowledge and understanding and then adjust their teaching to produce improved student learning.
  • Formative assessments do not simply inform teaching, they actually result in the formation of new learning.
  • Formative assessments can have powerful positive results on student learning because teacher behavior becomes informed and instruction becomes targeted toward specific needs.
  • Chalkboard Splashed and Hold-Ups great for formative assessment.
  • One Liner Wall-composed of selected student' statements from their writings.
Chapter 9-Building a TPT-Conducive Classroom p 110