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Quick Hands

Utilizing the hand-raising feature to ensure equitable participation


When working with students remotely and/or in hybrid contexts, it can be challenging for all students to participate equitably. To ensure students are not only able to engage, but are able to engage comfortably, it is important to give all students the chance to share, participate, and even answer questions in interesting ways. When in person, many educators use strategies such as "Popsicle Sticks" to do cold-calls or go through their roster to ensure each student has a turn, but this can get tricky in a hybrid setting. One way to address this challenge is to utilize the “Quick Hands” strategy, in which students are given a countdown from three to one to raise their hands at the same time and, in turn, build a list for the teacher to use for participation at that moment or to use throughout the day.

How to implement this strategy in your virtual classroom:

Identify a lesson that requires all students to actively participate (e.g., students presenting a project, going through review questions, popcorn sharing). At the beginning of class, once all students have logged on, follow these steps:

  • Count down from three and have all students raise their hands virtually using the hand-raise button.

  • Conduct a quick check to ensure all hands are raised by visually looking for the hand icon in each window or in the participant list (depending on which platform you are using).

  • Reference the participation list, produced by the order in which students raised their hands virtually, which will now serve as the order in which teachers can call on students to answer questions, read, or participate in another way.

This brief activity ensures all students are included in the participation list and also allows students to proceed slower or faster based on their readiness to share. This gives students the opportunity to engage in class and ensures that stronger voices are not dominating the discussion. Doing this also lets students who may not feel as confident to hold back after the countdown so they appear later on the list and thus can participate after watching peers model the activity. This helps students feel safe, supported, and ready to engage based on their comfort level.

Strategy Resources

Managing Hand Raising in Zoom

This video shows how to manage the raised hands feature in Zoom to facilitate participation. Learn More

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