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The Fisheye Syndrome: Is Every Student Really Participating?


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Greta just had an amazing discussion with her fifth period history class. 他们’一直在研究大屠杀,今天’上课时,他们只是钉钉子。她原本计划进行约十分钟的讨论,但进展顺利,整个过程都让她进行。日子像这块石头。

Except for the stuff she didn’t notice. Like Haley.

Haley is in Greta’s fifth period. She had a lot of questions today, but never found the right moment to ask them. She doesn’t like to interrupt. A few times, she almost put her hand up, but someone else would start talking before she ever managed to lift it.

罗伯特也在那堂课。整个时期他都像个白痴–一个孩子不断提起第三帝国,而罗伯特’•100%确认那是什么。他绝对没有’t want to ask.


And Becky and Kyle? The super shy ones? Naturally, they also stayed quiet. Oh, and three other students secretly texted the whole time. In fact, in Greta’s class of 28 students, only nine of them actually contributed to that discussion: Four of those were really into it, five commented once. The other nineteen just sat there. The whole time. Really.

Greta doesn’t realize that she is suffering from the Fisheye Syndrome。它’会影响我们的感知的条件,就像我们’透过鱼眼镜头–他们在猫眼中使用的那种。对于那些遭受鱼眼困扰的人,有些学生显得比其他人“更大”。它们占据了更多的精力并吸引了我们更多的注意力,使其他人逐渐淡出边缘。我们对其他人在那里有一种模糊的感觉,我们na自己将他们包括在内,但是那些放大的学生很难抗拒。

Not You!

Maybe you’re thinking this doesn’t apply to you, especially if you’re used to having animated debates with your students. Unlike some classrooms, where students are asleep most of the time, yours is interactive and engaging, right? Here’s the weird thing: The fact that your class seems so lively might actually be a stronger indication that you’re operating behind the fisheye lens.


I don’t think any of us do it on purpose. We do it out of habit, and because it’s so freakin’ gratifying:您提出一个问题,然后您一个敏锐的言语孩子立即回答答案。这是一个很好的答案,可以按照您希望他们去的方向上课,表明对材料有扎实的掌握。 Wow, you think, they’re really learning!  (…and, if we’re being honest: You like me! You really like me!) Then it happens with another student, another extrovert, and then one more. Things are hopping now, a bona fide “class” discussion, but really, you’re just volleying with three or four students. Most of the others have already checked out. We don’t realize it because we’re high on the whole thing, the nice rhythm we’ve got going with those three or four, that we lie to ourselves just a little.

So even if you have the tiniest suspicion that you might be afflicted, do some investigating. The best way is to videotape a few of your classes. The only problem is, once you become aware of the imbalance in participation, you’re more likely to try and correct it while videotaping. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless you overcorrect for the recording, then go back to old habits and never recognize the presence of the fisheye. Another diagnostic tool is a laminated seating chart: Using a dry-erase marker, put a mark in each student’s place on the chart every time he or she contributes to the class. In no time you’ll have a visual on who is talking and who isn’t.

Whether you think this is an issue in your teaching or not, my goal here is just to put the bug in your ear. To raise your awareness. Tomorrow, when you interact with your students, move your vision to the periphery and ask yourself if those students are as involved as they could be.

Why Equitable Participation Matters

Sure, there’s an element of “no duh” here: Obviously, increasing student participation is a good thing. But apart from making school a more interesting place to be, why is it important to get all of our students involved in discussions? Can’t a student get just as much from listening as they would from actively participating?

Discussion equals formative assessment.


The quiet ones MUST learn to speak.
Every year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers surveys employers about the skills they most want in potential employees (updated in 2016). In 2013, the‘ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization’was near the top of the list. If our task is to help students become college- and career-ready, we are responsible for helping them grow as talkers。我们所有的学生,尤其是安静的学生,都必须学习如何有效地表达自己的想法,而且与实际必须将您的思想构筑成连贯的口头表达的认知和社会挑战相比,没有多少聆听可以与之相比。尽管我们害羞的学生会反抗,我们的同情心使我们想保护他们,但让他们避免这样做却对我们没有帮助。作家兼老师杰西卡·拉海(Jessica Lahey) February 2013 Atlantic column, agrees:“If anything,” she says, “I feel even more 强烈建议我内向的学生必须通过与父母,教育者以及整个世界的交流来学习如何进行自我倡导。”


The talkers MUST learn to listen.

The End of Fisheye Teaching

那么,既然镜头已经关闭,如何保持关闭?我们如何让更多的学生参与进来?首先,要知道目标不是让所有学生都参加 exactly 相同的比率推动应该是更多的平衡。如果您安静的学生在每次讨论中都发表了很好的评论,那就是朝正确方向迈出的一步。

Here are some ways to balance things out:

Make your intentions transparent. Talk to your students about this issue, and ask them to help change the current dynamic. This will prepare your quiet students, so they won’t be startled by the sudden shift in attention. It will also help your extroverts understand why they are no longer getting the floor the way they’re used to. Some of this might happen behind the scenes: For the class dominators, you might encourage them to limit the number of comments they make to three per class, or offer points any time they paraphrase or build on another student’s comment or question. For those who typically hang back, have them choose a question ahead of time that they feel they could contribute something to, and plan to call on them for that item.

Increase wait time. Typically, female students and those with more reflective learning styles need more time to process higher-level questions. This can be accomplished with some good old-fashioned wait time. We should be waiting at least three seconds between posing a question and calling on a student to answer. (Easier said than done.) This gives everyone more time to think about what they want to say. Want to go even further? Add a“no hands”time, where no one gets to raise their hands at first: You ask the question, EVERYONE thinks for a moment about their answer with their hands down, then give them the go-ahead to raise their hands, then 你拜访某人。您’我会惊讶于这对上升的手数有什么影响。

Pre-load discussions. 通过提前向他们提问问题,让害羞的学生有一个良好的开端。实际上,请继续将它们提供给所有人。多说话的学生也可以从更多的思考时间中受益。

Vary discussion formats。任何时候只要您可以让学生有机会与较小的听众分享他们的想法,便会鼓舞他们与较大的听众分享他们的想法。这是哪里 think-pair-share comes in handy: Rather than holding whole-class free-for-alls, put students in groups of 2 to 4 and pose questions one at a time, allowing each group to talk it over with each other first, then call on representatives to recap for the whole class. Take this a step further by doing a think-WRITE-pair-share, where each student first considers their own answer, writes it down, then 与其他人分享。这不仅给他们更多的思考时间,还迫使他们自己回答问题,而不是自己回答问题。“what that guy said.”

Use icons. This strategy, described by Ruth Wickham, an English language teacher in Malaysia, is an ingenious way to get active participation from students in large classes. “I printed out four sets of little pictures, just clip-art type things, then I cut them up and stuck one on the first inside page of each (participant) workbook. The icons were all mixed up, so no one had the same as the person next to them, and there were four of each scattered around the room.” She then placed the same icons onto certain slides in her presentation. Whenever an icon (such as a duck) appeared on the screen, participants who had a duck on their paper had to come to the front of the room and answer a question or perform a task. “The looks on their faces every time they saw an icon appear was just classic! We all had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs even with such a big group.”


有些学生自然会比其他学生更加活跃,健谈,活泼。我们’不要试图让他们都一样,只是在第一天出现的人的更好,更强大,更平衡。照顾好小鱼眼,您’我们将随时准备帮助他们每个人充分发挥其潜能。那’真正的对话何时开始。 ♦


Stick around.
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  1. Emilee says:

    哦,我的天啊!可悲的是,我对鱼眼一无所知。它’s true, we’re humans, and we’会自然地被声音和动作所吸引,因此那些性格外向的学生会大声喊叫或在您的面前挥手。它’也容易将那些安静,害羞的学生误认为是无趣的,所以有时我想知道是否应该打电话给他们,以免看到他们的小脸因尴尬而变红。

    Where is the balance? For me, it’s hard to find. As a still newbie teacher, two things I have tried are: think-pair-share before a full class discussion to get those shy people practice getting their thoughts to a smaller audience first, and, secondly, using an app on my iPad call“Class Dojo”which randomly selects students for me to call.

    I think using the discussion with a partner during think-pair-share has been more successful than Class Dojo, because it causes less anxiety to have already said ideas aloud with a partner versus worrying that Class Dojo will call a student out when they’re definitely not ready. Thanks for the post!

    • Hi Emilee! Thanks for your contribution.


      Think-pair-share really is a good practice—even for adults, having an opportunity for even one other person to hear your thoughts and not react like you’一个白痴可以大大建立起在课堂上讲话的信心。

      • Emilee says:

        I’m not very proficient in my use of Class Dojo, so I haven’t had it projected on the board during class. Class Dojo, really, is a tool for reporting behavior. Every time a student does something well, they get a point and they can hear a“ding”on the screen. Makes them feel good - A teacher on my team does this. Her students know their log in information and can get into Class Dojo at home and see how many positive/negative interactions they’ve had during class. This is great for use during parent/teacher conferences too. So, as far as calling on students randomly using it, I’m using a minor function of Class Dojo and only looking at it on my iPad.

    • Wonderful, thanks so much!

  2. Paul says:


    无论’纪律或敬业度’s extremely tough to address twenty to thirty individuals fairly.

  3. 我喜欢图标策略!一世’我今年要用它!我的课堂似乎讨论讨论行为。一些课程是“out of control”讨论主题(以至于我们必须使用“talking pillow”将对话范围限制在全班),而我们可以’不要让别人说话。使用图标既可以解决这两个问题,又可以鼓励孩子们注意,因为他们实际上可能需要做出贡献!

  4. Domenick says:

    In my district, we are taught to use Equity Sticks, which I have found to be a great strategy. In my shirt pocket, I have a class set of popsicle sticks, each with a student’s name. After I ask a question (wait until after you ask it so that everyone has to listen to the question), I pull out a stick to call on a random student. You can put the stick back in your pocket afterwards so that the student can be called on again (this way they don’请在回答问题后调出来)。想法是,这是要求学生参与的更公平的方式。

  5. 非常感谢您分享本文!即使在有好心老师的最佳教室中,这种情况也很普遍。感谢您帮助教育工作者更多地了解我们每个教室中的*每个*学生。一世’ve在这里扩展了您的好主意,包括使用技术工具增强数学课堂中每个学生能力的方法,并荣幸地在2017年全国数学教师理事会年会上分享了10分钟的演讲。

    Check out my talk, and others, at #ShadowCon17 using this link:

    All the best, Cathy

  6. 我喜欢读这篇!很久以前,我’我现在没有教学了,所以’很高兴看到它仍在使用。我第一次使用这些图标时是否提到过几百个课程?但它也适用于较小的群体。

  7. Al-amin says:


  8. This post presents one of THE problems I have had in my instruction. But I have come up with one of the best solutions! Not a guarantee to get all students participating, but I have seen it engage every single student in my class in discussion before.

    It’这是我创建的一种简单且易于实施的策略,称为“持续对话”。詹妮弗(Jennifer)邀请我在播客上谈论它! 109。

    Here: //

  9. Alexis Mabe says:

    I am naturally an introvert. This is my 11th year teaching, so that should give little indication of my age without actually admitting it - I have had to spend a lot of time teaching myself how to communicate in crowds, how to express myself and let my voice be heard. Now, I seek out leadership roles in my school and I present at conferences, but it is an ongoing learning process. I often wonder what I could have accomplished earlier if my teachers had been aware of career readiness competencies and if they had cared about helping to teach introverts how to communicate their thoughts.

    • Angie says:


      • Katrice Quitter says:

        Yes! These strategies can be applied to students of any age.

  10. Hello, Jennifer. This is a great article and I love the site. I am writing a report with reflections about noticing the fisheye syndrome in my own teaching. Is this your own terminology or is there a citation or something else I can use? I am planning to cite your article in my paper as well. Many thanks in advance!

  11. Christina Bowens says:

    Participation can be personality specific and will look differently for each student.

  12. Hi Jennifer


    For elementary students, I found a particularly helpful resource to use in exploring the different types of personalities is Charlie Parsley and Pearl Barley by Aaron Blabey. It’s a beautiful book and really useful to develop an appreciation for the range of personas in a classroom.




  13. Ethan Meguiar says:

    Good article, eye opener

  14. Gordon Dobie says:


    Thanks again!

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