January 11, 2014

Increase Student Participation with Showdown

I'm super excited to be linking up with my girl, Joanne, for the first time in WAY too long to share with you an activity that can easily be incorporated into any lesson: Showdown!

If your classes are anything like mine, whenever you're doing a whole-class lesson, there are only a handful of students (and they're the same students in every class) who volunteer to answer questions. It is way too easy for students to sit back and let their peers do all the work.

But, in my classroom, I want all of my students to participate. I want them to take risks. I don't want them to be afraid to make mistakes because THAT'S HOW WE LEARN!

Showdown is an easy activity that gets all students participating. All you need to do is give each student a white board (or you can create your own with page protectors/binders with plastic covers and a piece of white paper or cardstock) and a marker. You simply prompt students with a question, and they write it on their boards, keeping their answers hidden (so no one can copy). When you say, "Showdown!", all students hold up their white boards for you to see their answers. It provides an instant status of the class and allows students to learn from their peers. And the best part? No one is exempt from TRYING!

Showdown can be used throughout your lesson to check for understanding, at the end as a formative assessment, or even for review before a test or after a large break (you know... like two and a half weeks off for winter break).

We do this activity quite often in science. I work with a group of ESL and SPED students in this class who are very apprehensive to share their ideas and questions, but with a little encouragement, they DO take risks in this game. When they're wrong, it makes them feel better to look around the room and see that they are not alone, and when they're right, they're so proud of themselves!


  1. This a great way to keep all students active. Up until last year, I kept a whiteboard and markers in each desk. Now with the iPads, we can use them as the white boards! Somehow, just the fact that their using them makes all the difference.

    Have a great weekend!

    Surviving Sixth Grade

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  2. Oh...I do this sometimes, but I never had a name for it. Now I do...FUN!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. We use whiteboards ALL THE TIME! I totally agree with you - it creates an atmosphere where all students need to participate. Plus, it helps me see instantly who understands the concept and who needs some reinforcement. I've never tried the "Showdown" technique - I'll have to throw that in this week :) Thanks for the great idea!

    Joy in the Journey

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  5. I love dry erase boards-such a quick way to assess your students' understanding! Have you had Kagan training? I forgot about the term "Showdown"-thank you for the reminder! I just bought new boards and used high heel duct tape (of course!) to border them! :) I'll use Showdown tomorrow! Thanks for linking up and sharing!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching