Yes, I had an epiphany! In my class on campus at BYU the lesson theme was "Active Participation." We gave our students some great ideas and strategies to use when they go out into the classroom (in just a few short weeks!) We taught them about the two different ways to get students engaged (overtly and covertly.) We gave them ideas to use individual whiteboards, color cards, choice sticks, etc. But then in the middle of my colleague's portion of the lesson, she stated how important it is to have the students discuss in small groups or partnerships before answering a question. For example: the teacher asks a question like "how can you explain the difference between overt and covert participation in the classroom?" Instead of asking the question and then having just a few hands raise, the teacher asks small groups or partnerships to discuss possible answers to the question. This gives everyone the opportunity to really think about the question and bounce ideas off of each other. Also, by doing this it give everyone something to say, not just a few even your ELL students, your struggling students, your shy students. Giving them the opportunity to share and talk about the questions asked, sets them up for SUCCESS!
As I realized this, I actually made an audible gasp. I'm not kidding, it was like the light bulb being turned on. I'm sure you are all already doing this in your classroom, and that I'm just a slow learner. What a great and easy way to get a lot of active participation in the classroom.