I certainly don't think I invented this idea, but I don't remember taking it from anyone else, either. So, while I can't give credit, I'll bet there's someone who thinks I should. I call this, "Everybody In." While everyone in the class should be focused in at all times, we know that's not reality. We all teach kids with attention problems or those that are simply disinterested in the topic at hand and are having a hard time getting into the lesson. "Everybody In" is my way of getting 100% participation and a quick check for understanding.
This poster (crude as it is) reminds kids of our signals.
During Everybody In, all students must raise their hand(s) when a question is asked or a statement is made. The left hand raised represents an answer of "no," a disagreement with the statement, or a negative number (since we do a lot of integer work). The right hand raised represents "yes," agreement, or a positive number. My kids know that they are supposed to "ride the roller coaster" when they are unable to decide. This tells me they've considered the statement or question and are in need of some support.
Just to be totally goofy once in a while, we'll add left and right feet if we're working on a topic that naturally lends itself to three or four categories (for example, types of angles). It gets the wiggles out even while they're in their seats!
Now, this isn't going to get at your higher-order questioning. However, it will let you test your class on simple facts to make sure they've got them straight before you delve deeper. It's great for vocabulary, think alouds, and class discussions. Follow up by asking someone from each side to defend their selection.
Oh, and if your principal just happens to walk by when you're doing this, you're going to look awesome. After all, it will look like 100% of your kids are ready to answer your question. Which they are!
How could you use Everybody In as a part of your lessons? What words or phrases would you use for the left and right hands?