Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers

Reluctant Students

This discussion is part of a collection:Facilitating Student Communication

I was always shy in school, the idea of so much collaboration and discussion would have made me really anxious. How do you get reluctant students to engage in collaborative work and classroom discussions? What have you tried that has worked? What have you tried that hasn't worked?


When I initially teach the Think-Pair-Share strategy, after the sharing within the group is finished, I use a random technique to call on a student in a group to share with the class. That student can share either something he or she thought of or can share something someone else said. The student just "gives credit" by saying something like "Sally had a great idea...." and then goes on to share it. If the student is shy, he or she usually feels confident about sharing a good idea, and Sally gets some positive reinforcement too. If Sally is also shy, it helps build her confidence that what she has to say is important.

Great idea Path, I have never thought about Think-Pair-Share being a confidence booster! I think building a safe classroom culture and encouraging sharing is key. Once these great sharing habits have been fostered in primary grades students will feel more confident to share, make mistakes, and grow as learners in intermediate and middle grades.