Which students always raise their hand? The students that know the answer. Do you ever ask yourself, "Why am I calling on students who think they know the answer? Are these the students who need the most help."
I've started using a lot more cold calling this year. Instead of asking a question and then have students raise their hands, I just call on a student to answer the question. If too many of my cold call students are getting the questions wrong, obviously I need to adjust my lesson.
Before I used cold calling, my highest performers were giving me the perspective that the class had a greater level of understanding than was true.They were getting the questions right, so we must be ready to move on.
WHO TO CALL ON
I use Popsicle sticks for the cold calling. I know many teachers use the Popsicle sticks to decide on who to call. Here is a little twist on the traditional routine. Instead of putting in one stick for each student, some students have more sticks. Which students have extra sticks? The students who need the most support.
I break my class into three groups -benchmark, strategic and intervention. My benchmark students each have their name on one stick. My strategic students each have their names on two sticks. My intervention students have their name on three sticks. This way, the students who need to most help tend to be called on more frequently.
I don't always use cold calling, but it is one strategy to keep students on their toes and make sure that everyone is engaged in the lesson.