Show call is a questioning technique used as an alternative or in conjunction with directed questioning. I first heard of it from the Mr Barton Maths podcast, it is mentioned in a few episodes but most memorably with Doug Lemov and Ollie Lovell. It is a technique described in Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like a Champion 2.0, but unfortunately not in the original Teach Like a Champion that is gracing my bookshelf.
With directed questioning (alternatively called cold-calling) a student is chosen to answer a question regardless of whether or not they have raised their hand or volunteered to answer. The advantage is that students have to be ready to answer. They cannot sit back and allow others to do all of the work.
The difference with show call is that instead of having a student give a spoken answer, students’ work is displayed for everyone to see. We cannot see if every student is actually thinking about an answer but we can check if they are writing things down. If a student was recently chosen for a question they may think they are unlikely to be picked again and switch off. By having every student give a written response we can see that every student is engaged in thinking.
There are different methods for getting the work shown to the class. Firstly we could simply hold it up for everyone to see – fine if the writing is big enough. Alternatively the student could copy the work onto the whiteboard – this is can be time-consuming. A popular approach is to use a visualiser – good if you have one.
I borrowed a visualiser for a couple of weeks as an experiment, it worked well but as I travel to different classrooms I had to find the space and time to get it set up at the start of every lesson.
In his interview on the Mr Barton Maths Podcast Ollie Lovell mentioned a messaging app that he used to take a photo and send himself a message to himself to display the work on the computer which could then be projected. This lead to me experimenting with multiple apps to find the one that I thought would be best for my needs.
I decided upon Flickr. The advantages I found with Flickr was simplicity of use and speed of the upload to the photostream.
When I want to display a piece of a student’s work through the projector I simply take a photo using the app, click upload, walk to the computer and press F5 (refresh) on my photostream which I have ready opened, and then, there it is. The whole process takes under 10 seconds, depending on how far I have to walk back to the computer.
Students are very keen to see their peer’s work on the screen, they enjoy comparing it to what they have produced, trying to find a mistake in the work on screen or in their own, and commenting on the layout or presentation of the work. It has lead to discussions that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. If I find something interesting, I can use it in subsequent lessons. I have also had students ask me to take a photo of their work for display.
When I do take photos of work I have taken the decision to never mention the name of the student. I don’t want students to be embarrassed or singled out; any mistakes they have made have probably been made by others and it is a learning experience for the whole class.
Once the work is on display what do I do?
- Directed Questioning – I will ask a different student to talk us through the working shown. If it is a student that has been struggling, having the scaffolding of a correct set of working can help guide them through.
- Think, Pair, Share – this can lead to some interesting discussions with everyone having a comment. This works best when there is something interesting to discuss, for example ‘spot the mistake’ or other problems with layout or notation.
I have found show call to be valuable addition to my practice and Flickr has made this a simple process.