Hands up

hands-upBack in 2010 the BBC showed a short series called “The Classroom Experiment” where Professor Dylan Williams took over a year 8 class to test out some simple ideas that he believes could improve the quality of education. One of these ideas was to ban hands up when the teacher asks a question and instead choose students at random. To aid the fair and even selection of students he wrote their names onto lollipop sticks and picked them out at random.

thehatI was reminded of this programme today because my daughter, who is currently studying to be a teacher on a PGCE course, bought some lollipop sticks. And this triggered another memory, that of a free program called “The Hat” from Harmony Hollow Software which allows you to select students at random on the computer screen. It adds a slightly different dynamic to selecting students and also allows you to group students at random.

Obviously, if you have some difficult students you would have to be brave to use it to group students at random as Darren and Clive are bound to end up grouped together!

Anyway, I’ve found it to be quite a nifty and useful piece of software in the past. You can run it from a USB pen, you can load up different classes onto it, and you can use it to draw numbers or words rather than names. All in all, this software can provide that little bit of fun without distracting from the education process, it can fool students into blaming the machine rather than you and it allows you to try out the “no hands up” approach without lollipop sticks. If you try it out let me know what you think of it.