Are introverted children hurt by classroom focus on participation and group activities?

Education Week has a fascinating story on introverted students and whether today’s classrooms are hospitable to such quiet, reflective children.

One comment struck me in the piece: “The kids who are bouncing around the room and punching people in the face need to be addressed right away. In a classroom of limited resources, that’s where the resources go,” Mr. Coplan said, adding that the quiet students often get ignored.

It made me recall a former co-worker who had her baby in a child care center with video cameras so she could log on from work and watch her baby. What she saw was that her baby was quiet and contented and, as a result, ignored for most of the day. The child care staff picked up and coddled the babies who cried or fussed. My colleague realized that her very quiet baby was not commanding any attention in large child care center and ended up hiring a home sitter instead.

Her quiet baby girl grew up into a quiet child, and my colleague would tell me that her introverted daughter was overlooked or underestimated in school because she did not speak out a lot or frantically raise her hand to answer every question.

This piece talks directly about such kids and what studies tell us about them.

Here is an excerpt but please read the entire Education Week piece:

“Whoever designed the context of the modern classroom was certainly not thinking of the shy or quiet kids,” said Robert J. Coplan, a psychology professor and shyness expert at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. With often-crowded, high-stimulation rooms and a focus on oral performance for class participation, he said, “in many ways, the modern classroom is the quiet kid’s worst nightmare.”

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, published by Random House this year, argues that such children often stop learning when they feel emotionally threatened in a class environment in which being an extrovert is considered the norm. “There is too often a tendency to see it as inferior or even pathological,” Ms. Cain said, “so teachers feel they have to turn the introvert into an extrovert.”

Take a typical class review session, in which a teacher asks rapid-fire questions and calls on students in turn. “So if a teacher asks a question and the person doesn’t answer right away,” Mr. Coplan said, “the most common thing is the teacher doesn’t have time to sit and wait, but has to go on to someone else—and in the back of their head might think that child is not as intelligent or didn’t do his homework.”

That slowness to speak can dramatically affect a student’s success in classrooms where vocal participation and group activities are critical. A 2011 study found teachers from across K-12 rated hypothetical quiet children as having the lowest academic abilities and the least intelligence, compared with hypothetical children who were talkative or typical in behavior.

Interestingly, teachers who were identified as and who rated themselves as shy agreed that quiet students would do less well academically, but did not rate them as less intelligent. As many as half of Americans are introverts, according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, located in Gainesville, Fla.

There’s a distinction between shyness—generally associated with fear or anxiety around social contact—and introversion, which is related to a person’s comfort with various levels of stimulation. A shy student, once he or she overcomes the fear, may turn out to be an extrovert, invigorated by being the center of attention.

By contrast, an introverted child may be perfectly comfortable speaking in class or socializing with a few friends, but “recharges her batteries” by being alone and is most energized when working or learning in an environment with less stimulation, social or otherwise, according to Mr. Coplan and Ms. Cain.

Mr. Coplan and his colleagues found differences between shy and introverted students as early as age 4: In play observations, shy children tended to hover anxiously just outside a group of unfamiliar children, while introverted children played quite happily on their own and did not attempt to approach other children. “It seems clear,” the researchers concluded, “that ’solitude’ is an insufficient criterion for characterizing children as ’socially withdrawn.’ ”

The research is mixed on when and why quiet students are academically challenged. Previous, separate studies by Mr. Coplan; fellow Carleton University psychologist Kathleen Hughes; Mary M. Reda, an associate professor at the City University of New York; and others have found that quiet and shy students often have difficulty with class grades, but that largely comes from lower levels of class participation and oral skills.

Some studies show introverted students can be better than extroverts at taking standardized tests.”Parents of extroverts have told me [those students] never actually learn to work alone, so when the time comes to take tests, … they have trouble,” said Ms. Cain, a former corporate lawyer and researcher.  On the other hand, she said, focusing too much on students’ work in a 30-to-a-room class environment doesn’t necessarily prepare students for the project-based group work more common in the workplace.

“I actually think our [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] shortages are a cultural problem as much as a pedagogical problem; the type of kid who likes to sit by himself and do math problems or science problems is not supported,” Ms. Cain argued. “Most science operations are done as teams, but scientists still have quite a bit of privacy and autonomy to their workday,” she said, noting that such environments are also hard to replicate in classrooms.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

57 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

May 29th, 2012
4:24 am

“Whoever designed the context of the modern classroom was certainly not thinking of the shy or quiet kids,” said Robert J. Coplan, a psychology professor and shyness expert at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. With often-crowded, high-stimulation rooms and a focus on oral performance for class participation, he said, “in many ways, the modern classroom is the quiet kid’s worst nightmare.”

Coplan MUST be wrong. Doesn’t he realize these classrooms are designed by highly PAID educational EXPERTS?

The TEACHER is to blame. Solution? More HIGHLY PAID TRAINING (preferably by a knowledgeable central office administrator or a consultant) needed.


May 29th, 2012
5:17 am

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, so sayeth the age old adage.

I would expand this article to say that the quiet kids AND the kids who do their work are often ignored in today’s classroom. Nature of the beast when the teacher must deal with the behavior problems, the special ed kids who really should not be in a “mainstream” classroom, and the illegal aliens who cannot speak a lick of English. Only so many hours in a day….


May 29th, 2012
6:07 am

I have found that extroverted people are actually people who are self-centered and desperately seeking attention. I’m not sure why anyone would purposely want that in a child. I usually assume the quiet child is much smarter and more sincere. Quiet people have strength of character. It has never been a negative. The only time it is a negative is when it comes to entertainment and someone is needed to fill empty airspace. But that’s only because people do not understand the great value in silence.

Long time educator

May 29th, 2012
6:49 am

I think there is merit to this story. I hated group projects in school because in that setting I always did most of the work. I am not sure that I am a true introvert, I am a combination, but I do like to be evaluated individually. Children have many different learning styles and a teacher should try to provide a mix of activities so there is something for everyone. I agree that there is a heavier emphasis on group work today. I think this is driven by evaluations that push to see small groups and the fact that it makes grading easier. An essay assigned to 30 kids means the teacher spends about 10 minutes on each paper and provides written feedback. Group projects are usually presented orally in class and evaluation can take place on a rubric while the presentation is happening in the classroom. In a class of 30 with groups of 5, the teacher only has to listen to 6 projects and does not need to take anything home to grade. You do the math.

Compassionate Teacher

May 29th, 2012
7:02 am

I have never met a colleague who believed shy or introverted children are less intelligent, and I wouldn’t say that “rapid fire review sessions where teachers do not wait for children to respond” are typical. That’s a broad, unfounded assumption that once again paints teachers as mindless, prejudiced, and uncompassionate.

Every year I have classrooms full of very diverse students–from the obnoxious–yes, I just used that term–know-it-alls who feel they have to dominate every discussion and answer every question to the intelligent autistic students who are still learning how to participate effectively in social situations to the shy or introverted students who sit back and listen intently without ever saying a word. I even had one student who had selective mutism and only spoke to certain classmates in certain situations.

My goal is to make all students feel valued and comfortable in my classroom. I, like most teachers, do not judge the intelligence or ability of a student on how vocal he or she is. Most of those loquacious students speak before thinking and often make mistakes in judgement or in facts. I know those students are attention-seeking, and I try to give them positive attention while at the same time helping them learn that they do not have to speak constantly, they should think through responses, and they should value the contributions of others. If I have a domineering student (or students) in a class, I vary the ways I ask questions and call on students for responses. I often have students write journal entries to get their thoughts together before discussions; this makes the extroverted students slow down and consider what they want to say and gives the introverted students more time to feel comfortable and more likely to get involved. I also read and respond to those journals so that I can have a “conversation” with the introverted students even if they did not speak up to express an opinion in class. And when I give group projects, I consider the personalities of group members and always have an option for students to take different roles–some might work more behind the scenes while some are in the spotlight. As long as they all fulfill their role and show understanding of the material at the end, they all get equal credit.

Tommy Gunn

May 29th, 2012
7:20 am

Oh NO!! Another “group” that our education system has to be woried about! Has anyone noticed that since the “liberal” mindset has taken hold the education system has went to heck in a handbasket?
No paddling ( and they SURE are not going to be disiplined at home), we expel the kids for any fighting offense so the bullying has been put in the spotlight, If you hit the bully-er in the nose enough times, he WILL leave you alone. Expanded special ed, I have heard people say who have a severly disabled child, that is not capable of learning, and will never be self sufficent, that the school time at least gives them a break. At the taxpayer expense. We don’t teach “true’ history anymore, and you can forget “southern history”.
I wonder how long this country is going to survive?!


May 29th, 2012
7:52 am

I’d like to echo everything that compassionate teacher wrote.

There’s an educational tool of the trade called “wait time.” It’s where the teacher DOESN’T call on the first people who raise their hands and the teacher waits until he/she gets more involvement to answer the question. A good teacher will also pre-plan with an introverted student when they will answer a question so that the student can participate and feel successful. Also, watching a student’s non-verbal body language will let you know when he/she is ready to answer a question, but just may not be raising their hand.

I may be extra-sensitive to this b/c I’m an introvert as well, but a good teacher will run interference for an introverted student and let them work alone when they can, distract or move a student hellbent on drawing the introvert out of their shell, etc. Because many introverts do tend toward artistic and thoughtful work, it’s easy to let other students see their strengths when they have an opportunity to showcase them.

This, as well as many of the other topics on this blog are simply a matter of getting to know your students, managing a classroom and enforcing behavior expectations for all students. Kindness and respect and an expectation of the same from the students goes a LONG way towards making a peaceful, effective and fun learning environment.

Howard Finkelstein

May 29th, 2012
7:55 am

This also applies in the adult world. How often at “necessary” meetings do the usual loud-mouthed “know-it-alls” continually rehash the hash that was hashed out during the previous 4 meetings?

Seems the quiet, contremplative students, who plod along in silence are much more adjusted and have a deeper understanding of occuring events, within and without the classroom. Most will turnout to be fine.

The affected children should “play their game” and be taught by their parents to do so.

“A deep quiet river moves tons of water. A babbling brook is disturbing and soon becomes dry.”

Rick in Grayson

May 29th, 2012
8:18 am

Obviously, schools can not be setup to handle all types of personalities and learning styles. I personally found teachers to be of little help in school because my learning style was based on reading, not listening to lectures and presentations (attention deficit). Since I was often found day dreaming during K-12, I was not able to answer questions on material I had not read and could not answer the questions. Frequently I was not even aware of the question when asked and had to have it repeated.

I would have been much happier being left alone to read with the possibility of asking questions of a teacher when needed. Really, with the possible exception of higher mathematics and science, what is so “hard” to understand about most other subjects that isn’t already detailed in most textbooks? Frequent disruptions in class by undisciplined studens, only made it harder to pay attention to the material being presented. Move these students to a separate class!

In my day, gym classes were great because you were actually practicing the material within minutes of being instructed and had lots of examples (other students) applying the principles being taught. It was one of the few times during school where it wasn’t hard to maintain my attention on what was being taught. It was also a great time for practicing teamwork and social skills. Unfortunately, I understand that “gym” classes have gone out of style in today’s schools.

As far as responding to questions from the teacher…how does this show understanding of material? If you ask a group of 100 adults, “What is the sum of 1+1?”, how many actually raise their hand to answer? A lot fewer than the number that actually know the answer to most of the “trivial” questions. Maybe it tells the teacher something different about the personalities of those children who raise their hands…the ones needing the teacher’s attention.

[...] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 8:31 [...]

Progressive Humanist

May 29th, 2012
8:32 am

Group work is probably beneficial to shy and introverted students, because it forces them to interact socially and overcome tendencies that can be very limiting. Social learning can be very powerful and is necessary preparation for later in life even if it doesn’t directly transfer to employment projects.

The bigger question is whether group work is beneficial academically to them and other students. I don’t think there’s any doubt that group work can enhance learning in some circumstances. But if it’s used exclusively then it can be detrimental. For instance, consider a reading circle where one student reads aloud while three others listen and then they discuss the literature. This can be effective if your goal is to get the students to learn about the literature, but it doesn’t improve the reading comprehension level of the students who are listening (i.e. improve their ability to comprehend subsequent texts). That would only be accomplished if each student was reading for himself. Likewise, students have to be able to figure out math problems for themselves. And individual skill levels are much more difficult for the teacher to assess and address when all the activities involve groups. So I would recommend that teachers continue to incorporate group work, but it should comprise less than 50% of class work, ideally about 30-40%.


May 29th, 2012
8:41 am

Compassionate Teacher and Beck — you seem like two great teachers. Thank you. I told my 10yo son that desks were lined up in “test” format every day when I went to school. He said he would prefer that because maybe his classmates wouldn’t talk so much. There are many reasons today’s classroom techniques don’t work for some students. But when teachers have large class sizes like they do now, students are bound to be adversely affected. Even with the best teachers.


May 29th, 2012
8:43 am

By coincidence, I’m reading Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, PhD, and it’s been very eye-opening. As an introvert myself, I agree with this completely. I always hated group projects and being in a large classroom, and I was a mediocre student, though I always loved to read and write, and as an adult, I love learning on my own. This is one reason I’m homeschooling my children. I can already see that my five-year-old is introverted, and he blossoms with smaller groups of children and when he’s engaged in group activities that he enjoys. Yet he’s very content to play by himself for long stretches of time too, and he has a wonderful imagination. I know he’ll gain more confidence than I did and as he grows, this confidence will help him in any group situation, and he’ll also know when he needs to take some time for himself. I don’t blame teachers, and I think most of them are wonderful people who truly care about their students. But they just don’t have the time or resources to help each child’s individual needs.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

May 29th, 2012
8:46 am

Mr. Coplan seems to make a lot of assumptions about how teachers view their students. I wonder how much time he spent actually discussion the issue with teachers… I certainly don’t view my introverted students as less intelligent. Nor do I only call upon students who raise their hands. I pull from a cup of sticks with students’ names on them; so that I know I am not being biased in my questioning.

There is a strong push in education to use more and more “collaborative learning” situations, and I do use group projects and discussion as part of my classroom assessment. However, I also use individual work. I try to balance the class so that all students can feel successful, but can also experience a variety of situations to which they must adapt. (Rather like the real world.)

What I will agree with, is that the amount of time I must put into dealing with those students I consider “high maintenance” does take time from the more quiet and orderly children. It is sometimes hard to balance it all. I wish their were two of me in the classroom but there is only the one doing all she can to help all students feel successful and comfortable.


May 29th, 2012
8:48 am

ive had both extro and intro students. not much difference to be honest if neither can read or write.


May 29th, 2012
8:57 am

Tommy Gunn
May 29th, 2012
7:20 am

Tommy, I guess the conservative mindset taught you to write “has went” as standard English.

Ron F.

May 29th, 2012
9:05 am

Once again, we’re danged if we do, and danged if we don’t. We do project-based learning because that’s what the critics of education said we weren’t doing enough of so that kids could learn to work collaboratively in a increasingly complex world. Now we’re finding out that’s not right either.

A teacher with a whit of sense is aware of the diverse abilities and personalities of kids in the room. I spend just as much time with the introverts as with the extroverts. It’s all in how you plan and how you pay attention to kids. I think this article oversimplifies what happens in a classroom. Yes, the vocal and rambunctious take a lot of time verbally, but the shy or introverted often write and my communications with them are done via writing assignments and quiet discussions one-on-one. They generally don’t need as much of my time on a daily basis, but I give it to them when they need it and it isn’t that much of a challenge. It just seems to be common sense to me.


May 29th, 2012
9:06 am

This is another reason it is critical that resources be taken out of administration and put directly into the classroom — the smaller the class size, easier it is for every child to get what they individually need from the teacher. I have an introvert (the oldest), an extrovert (the middle) and a combination. Good day care forced each of them to learn coping skills for their inherent personality traits and my introvert is much better at coping in group settings than some of his introverted friends who were with stay at home moms who were not forced into the group setting at a very young age. Good private schools have significantly smaller class sizes (Classes of 10-12 instead of 30-40) and this enables the child to really grow — this is the real benefit of providing for a system where more children can go private – there is much less money going into administrative costs and much more money focuses on the student and the classroom (okay, I’ve done it — I’ve shared a secret — I know, another one is they have discipline and they get to kick kids out but some of the privates don’t do that — they keep trouble makers — big too-do over that at Woodward a few years ago — but they do have discipline and smaller class sizes and do get zeros and do have much higher expectations). And, yes, there are plenty of non-sectarian privates that “focus” on kids who are not the “gifted” population and on those with “needs” — but they do a much better job at it than the public schools because they are not “jacks of all trades”– they are specialized and small.

Maureen Downey

May 29th, 2012
9:10 am

@Ron, I would be curious if teachers think group projects are effective, and, if so, at what age. I have found that group projects that involve outside class time in the early grades are challenging as it falls to the parents to coordinate. At times, my kids have had group members who are just too busy — soccer, swimming, horseback riding — on weekends to meet. A friend of mine had the house where all the kids came to do their group projects — likely because she was the best home baker I have ever met. But the problem was that the kids would announce they needed certain supplies and my friend would be driving to Michael’s at 8 at night for craft supplies. She was a single mom with a limited income and those craft store runs became costly after a while.
With my younger kids, I have noticed a change now where most of the group projects are done in the classroom rather than after school or on weekends, and I wonder if that was a response to the coordination challenges.

Veteran Teacher

May 29th, 2012
9:14 am

After 25 years, I went back to a simple system to ensure more participation and decrease classroom disruptions. Go to the drugstore and buy a set of tounge depressors. Write each child’s name on them and put them into a container. When it is time for participation activities, draw the names one at a time…..example – when doing question and answer activities, the dominant children do not take over and the shy children get a chance to shine. Also, all children are required to pay attention on the lesson for they never know when it is their turn to answer.
I’ve found that this simple solution works for all levels of academic and behaviorial ability.

Ron F.

May 29th, 2012
9:15 am

“We don’t teach “true’ history anymore, and you can forget “southern history”.”

Trust me, as long as folks like you are around, no one will ever be able to forget southern history, as twisted as it often is in the minds of those who prefer to be nostalgic and ignore truth.

As to true history, that depends on one’s perspective. History books and curriculum writers have tried in recent decades to balance what we teach and to be more inclusive of what all groups of people have done. It’s not the purpose of the history classroom to perpetuate the power structure of the nation and the combination of facts and mythology that support it, which is what we have done for a long time. If being inclusive is a problem, then simply go to a private school that supports your version of the truth.

simon stewart

May 29th, 2012
9:18 am

I am surprised that this “expert” thinks this is something new. Moreover, how quiet students are judged can go both ways. Sometimes teachers assume quiet studens are doing fine when they really need help. Teachers who use rapid fire questions or “around the world” don’ t realize that such practices take away the opportunity to practice from those students who really need practice or review. I sure hope those teachers are exceptions…

Veteran Teacher

May 29th, 2012
9:25 am

In regard to group projects versus individual work, each student is assigned a particular role. All roles are interdependent upon each other for success…and I still use the tounge depressors to choose the groups and role responsibilities.
That all being said, Beck and Compassionate Teacher make excellent points on how to reach out to introverted students without making them feel that their shyness is a detriment to their own learning.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

May 29th, 2012
9:29 am

Introverted children, like their more gregarious classmates, ARE hurt by the disrespect, disorder and detachment which characterizes many of their classrooms.

So are their teachers.

So are their futures.

So is our future.

Inman Park Boy

May 29th, 2012
9:31 am

I suppose that if anyone suggested that disruptive children be placed in “special” classrooms, we would be severely reprimanded by a federal judge and a panel of media experts? Why not turn to the Seventh Circuit now instead of trying to do something that would help.


May 29th, 2012
9:40 am

Group projects are effective. I’ve used them, they can be both good and bad. I’ve had them bad where students (the introverted) asked to go back to independent work. Mainly because they were tired of doing all the work. I’ve learned when you use group work, design the lesson so that each student is graded on their individual part. Don’t grade the group as a whole.


May 29th, 2012
9:42 am

Ron F,

You are a bit vague. What is “true history” and in what context are you referring to?

I’m not being snarky, I think your comment might be more interesting than the original article.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
9:46 am

speaking as the quiet kid in the group, I hated compulsory participation. it made me vapor lock and not be able to think straight. and in the moment when I was trying to get my mouth to work, the loud smart ass kid would chime in and totally crash me.

group projects were a 30-70 proposition. 30% of the time you got a good group who shared the work and the credit. 70% you got a group dominated by the one kid who would NEVER shut up, but strangely would never do any work.

bootney farnsworth

May 29th, 2012
9:47 am

I never was happy having to depend on others for my grade.

puzzling choice

May 29th, 2012
9:53 am

I hate group projects as my classes are so varied abilities. My students who are introverted get very little out of them and even ask that they get reassigned to different people. I am extroverted in class but there is so very very little down time in class, enforced silent time, for contemplation that students have very little carryover outside the classroom. A great many of them cannot sit still and think quietly in a classroom setting, and it could be argued that it is boring,not engaging and not encouraging all the modalities of learning styles ( which has no scientific basis as of yet to back up these claims). But, they go home to homes that are chaotic, many electronic stimuli that distract and some NEVER get any down time to actually think. It is no wonder that they have so little skill at it. There is little time for the introvert to blossom with the tumult that is the ‘engaged’ classroom as mandated by the clip board police. Thank goodness the introverts do better on standardized testing since that is how students will be deemed successsful these days. The only silver lining in this whole ugly testing mandates that are being poured all over the public schools is that the over heavily emphasized group think/ group project/ group requirements will be minimized. To be replaced with individualized test prep rote…… no happy medium it seems that allows for educators to actually evaluate their own classes needs and act accordingly.

puzzling choice

May 29th, 2012
9:55 am

grammatically errors are due to rushing and not proofing not actually ignorance of the grammar rules. Pardon the errors.

[...] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 9:58 [...]

[...] background-position: 50% 0px ; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 10:02 [...]


May 29th, 2012
10:05 am

This is an important topic for educators and for parents. Students who are quiet often are thinking, processing and internalizing. However, this does mean they are not engaged. So, as people “measure engagement” be careful. “Engagement” has many definitions and looks and feels different when education is individualized. This is really a conversation for professionals, I think.


May 29th, 2012
10:07 am

Also, this topic has great cultural bias.

Jennifer G.

May 29th, 2012
10:16 am

I think the ideal classroom includes both quiet activities (reading, journal entries, etc.) and activities that include out-loud participation and group work.

The extroverts can learn to think quietly and independently, and introverts can learn to thrive in a group situation.

As for the quiet kids being ignored, I confess that this is something I’m worried about.

My nephew isn’t prepared for school at all–doesn’t know numbers/letters/colors, or really how to listen to instructions.

But he’s not disruptive and plays quietly most of the time, even within a group, so I’m worried he will stay behind as teachers deal with discipline problems and more active children.


May 29th, 2012
10:42 am

Let’s create another group needing special education. Get rid of more subject teachers, hire more special ed and then wonder what happened to education. There have been shy peopel for thousands of years, but give someone a grant to “study” it and we have the next new problem.

Atlanta Mom

May 29th, 2012
10:46 am

Group projects-My children hated them, as the parent, I hated them. Interestingly, my child who attended GT believes that her roommate did not make it through, because she was home schooled, and had never worked in a group. Could have knocked me over with a feather.

William Casey

May 29th, 2012
10:47 am

INTROVERTED STUDENTS: Early in the year, I used a simple “personality/learning-style” exercise (the “Gemstone Project”) to identify all types of students. The students LOVED this since they received a “scouting report” on themselves as a student.. I used the info in many ways to plan lessons.

GROUP WORK: There are pros and cons and I was careful how I used it sparingly but effectively. I assigned one important semester-long project that required individual research outside of class. Group roles/tasks were clearly defined and a quality “product” was due on a hard deadline just as in the business world. I began using this project in my third year of teaching and after 25 years of tweaking, it was pretty d*mn good. Too much “group work” in modern classrooms is content deficient and poorly organized. Doing it properly takes an enormous amount of teacher preparation.

TEACHING “REAL” HISTORY: I used a simplified historiographical approach based on the excellent work of Grob & Billias. My students came to understand that there are many views on historical events, including a “Southern View,” (professionally known as the “Dunning View,” named after its creator.)

William Casey

May 29th, 2012
10:50 am

@Atlanta Mom: Learning to work with others on a TEAM is a very important skill for a person’s post-school career. That’s why I always tried to integrate concepts from my athletic coaching into the academic classroom.

Ron F.

May 29th, 2012
10:57 am

Maureen: With both of mine finally in high school, I know all about the 8 PM Michael’s runs- OUCH! I think like most trends, the newness wears off and people finally learn what works and what doesn’t. I tend to plan for kids to work on projects more at school and only go home with very specific pieces to finish there. I’ve found that I need to monitor their work and help them develop the planning behaviors they aren’t mature enough to have yet. I’ve also seen more teachers going to web-based projects with older kids, which are more interesting to them anyway.

Rob: “true” history depends on perspective. I probably should have laid out my statement better, but I think the best study of history is inclusive and presents an event from multiple perspectives. The important thing is to be open to accepting those multiple points of view and teaching kids to decide which they believe and why. I think we were undoubtedly pretty one-sided for a while. For example, I have friends from NY who were taught about the Civil War much differently than I was growing up in the heart of Georgia. I think it’s worthwhile for schools to try to teach the varying ways events in history are interpreted with as little bias as possible.


May 29th, 2012
11:34 am

I agree that introverted students may get the short end of the attention stick because they are not as vocal. However, many graded activities are individual – homework, in class assignments, tests. I suspect this is a bigger concern in elementary school as there are more opportunities to grab some solitude in middle or high school when you have several teachers throughout the day.

Given growing class sizes, there will be fewer chances to have individual moments to shine. In this age of get me cool technology, I’d like to see better use of 1/2 the smartboard solution. I’m not a fan of the smartboard solution, but I love the response system part of it. Ask a question and everyone’s response goes to the teacher’s laptop. Ask many questions, get many responses from extroverts AND introverts. More data points for the teacher to use instead of trying to read body language of a room packed with kids.

I like Susan Cain’s Manifesto…it has several strengths based ideas. (Marcus Buckingham would smile.)


May 29th, 2012
11:35 am

My field is in the Humanities, and a great many of my colleagues greatly prize “class participation,” particularly since good participation seems to improve the teaching evaluations at the end. It also is more onerous to lecture for the entire class period, and makes one doubt class involvement. Many of my colleagues allot a certain percentage of the final grade for “class participation,” just to ensure it occurs.

For several decades, I have steadfastly refused to do this for many reasons. For one thing, as Ms. Cain observes, some people just are uncomfortable speaking up. As a former somewhat introverted person in the K-12 classroom, I can sympathize. (Life and the rigors of a strong doctoral program pretty well took care of any introversion.)

And I also have learned from the college classroom that there are many international cultures that consider speaking in class a sign of disrespect for the teacher. This is commonly true for those from cultures in the Middle East and in Asia, both Pacific Rim and Indian. I remember one male undergraduate from India shyly saying to me after class, “But, Dr.—, in my culture I would be insulting you to say anything in class, for it would suggest I think I know more than you do.”

For another thing, it simply seems too subjective to me…for after all, stupid class comments would count as “class participation,” would they not? How grade them?

The problem of the extroverted students who seek to dominate class discussions is a whole other topic, and perhaps harder to deal with.


May 29th, 2012
11:44 am

@William Casey – ” Too much “group work” in modern classrooms is content deficient and poorly organized. Doing it properly takes an enormous amount of teacher preparation.”

My son’s AP Calc Bc teacher used a group project as a FINAL EXAM, given during the 2 weeks of AP Exams, group received a 77. I am waiting to hear back from principal as this was a total disaster; of course he only had 6 assignments to grade and he was surprised students didn’t even attend his class on the day of finals. Effectively, he stopped teaching after the AP exam, so much for 180 school days! Hope he doesn’t become a model for the entire school.

are you serious

May 29th, 2012
11:49 am

and let the wussification of America continue. Mom’s, do oyu really expect the rest of us to accept dumbed down classroom instruction, b/c your little wusofakid is a little shy?? Now we have to consider who is slow, who is special, who has behavior problems, who is shy, who doesn’t like this, doesn’t like that….where does it end? It’s a free education, it amazes me how much complaining parents do , but rarely lift a finger to help educate their OWN kids.

Quit complaining about teachers and schools and have a real hand in your kids education for a change.

JF McNamara

May 29th, 2012
12:01 pm

It’s always been that way, and it always will be. It’s best they get used to it early on in life, because it’s going to be tough in the workplace and they need to learn to deal with it.

Americans value loud style over quiet substance…

Michael Moore

May 29th, 2012
12:14 pm

From “On teaching the Rudiments”
Leo Tolstoy – Mid 1830s

“The best teacher will be he who has at his tongue’s end the explanation of what it is that is bothering the student. These explanations give the teacher the knowledge of the greatest possible number of methods, the ability of inventing new methods and, above all, not a blind adherence to one method but the conviction that all methods are one-sided, and that the best method would be one which would answer best to all the possible difficulties incurred by a pupil, that is, not a method but an art and talent. Every teacher must…by regarding every imperfection in the pupil’s comprehension, not as a defect in the pupil but as a defect in his own instruction, endeavor to develop in himself the ability of discovering new methods.”


May 29th, 2012
1:06 pm

I should have added to my 11:35 am post that K-12 educators with students of Middle Eastern or Asian backgrounds should remember that the students’ seeming introversion could have cultural origins. In my experience, this is particularly true for Pacific Rim Asian students. That was why I posted here, for I certainly did not know this until directly told by such students.


May 29th, 2012
1:08 pm

I should have added to my 11:35 am post that K-12 educators with students of Middle Eastern or Asian backgrounds should remember that their students’ seeming introversion could have cultural origins. In my experience, this is particularly true for Pacific Rim Asian students. That was why I posted here, for I certainly did not know this until directly told by such students.

Larken McCord

May 29th, 2012
1:21 pm

To Maureen’s comment at 9:10:

The coordination and scheduling issues are significant challenges in group projects, but they aren’t the only reason more and more teachers are providing class time for students to work on them. If teachers don’t incorporate class time into the project, we don’t get to see how they collaborate. One of the oft-cited utilities of these projects is their “real-world” application. If we don’t give them the opportunity to demonstrate the process as well as the product, the students are missing part of the instruction.

The caveat, as always, is that not all group projects (or tests, or final exams, or papers) are the same. Every classroom activity should be thoughtfully designed to meet the instructional objectives for a specific group of kids.