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Volume 3 Number 2

Harry & Rosemary Wong say, "...effective teachers do not employ tricks of the trade, the latest fad, or untested opinions..." This month the Wongs feature Liz Breaux, a most effective teacher...
Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Online Classrooms by Leslie Bowman
The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Around the Block by Bridget Scofinsky
Ask the Literacy Teacher by Leigh Hall
The Visually Impaired Child by Dave Melanson
Seussational Reading Excitement - NEA's Read Across America: Too Much Reading Fun for Just One Day!...
The 100th Day of School
100th Day Activities
Television--Don't Trash It--Control It
Remediation Doesn't Work
Behavior Management Tips
Children and Stress
Children Do Grieve
Infuse Test Preparation With Life-long Learning
Technology Integration Has No Hope of Succeeding!
Technophobia to Technophilia
Cooperative Learning
Why All Students Need Fine Motor Skills
Teaching Gayle to Read (Part 3)
The Role of EFL learners' Heterogeneity in Terms of Age in Their Use of Communication Strategies
The Importance of the School Administration to Student Achievement
Using Non-Fiction to Motivate Reluctant Readers
Quantity over Quality--The Problem with Writing Instruction in Our Schools
Tips for Substitute Teachers
From "I Don't Care" to "I Did It!"
Rules for Secondary Classrooms
Block Scheduling
Special Days This Month
The Lighter Side of Teaching
  • YENDOR'S Top Ten
  • Exceptional Normalcy
  • Schoolies
  • Woodhead
  • Handy Teacher Recipes
    Classroom Crafts
    Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
    Featured Lessons from the Lesson Bank
  • Famous Black Americans
  • Valentine Village
  • Upcoming Ed Conferences
    Letters to the Editor
    Chatboard Poll
    Arecibo Radar Gets 11th-Hour Reprieve
    Planetary Society Offers New Scholarships
    Gazette Home Delivery:

    About Marvin Marshall...
    Marvin Marshall is a professional speaker and seminar leader who presents his program, "Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards - Raise Responsibility and Promote Learning," to schools across the world.

    His program was developed upon his returning to full-time teaching after 24 years of counseling, supervision, and administration. He has taught primary and upper elementary grades and has been an elementary school principal. He has taught all middle grades and has been a middle school counselor and assistant principal. He has taught all high school grades and has been a high school counselor, assistant principal of supervision and control, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, and high school principal. He has also served as a district director of education.

    Dr. Marshall, who is certified by the William Glasser Institute, presents for Phi Delta Kappa International, for several leading seminar companies, and for schools and school districts. His presentation schedule is on the calendar of his website.

    In his book Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards - How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning, he clearly and concisely demonstrates how the external approaches of relying on rules, imposing consequences, rewarding students for appropriate behavior, and punishing students to make them obey are all counterproductive.

    The book can be purchased from the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, Phi Delta Kappa, at local bookstores, or from his website Questions submitted to Kathleen Carpenter at will be considered by Marv Marshall for responses in future monthly columns in the Teachers.Net Gazette.

    Click to visit Marvin Marshall's Homepage.

    Promoting Learning
    by Dr. Marvin Marshall
    How to Achieve 100 Per Cent Student Participation

    Competition increases performance, but collaboration increases learning.


    One needs to look no further than the business or sports sections of any newspaper to see how pervasive competition is in our culture. There is no doubt that competition increases performance. Athletic teams, bands, and other performing groups practice for hours spurred on by the competitive spirit.

    Obviously, fair competition is valuable and can be lots of fun. Competition in classrooms, however, is fun for the winner but is often unfair for the others because the same children usually win, making it uninvolving and even futile for others. If a student rarely finds himself in the winner's circle, then competitive approaches kill the drive for learning. Think of it this way. People compete because they want to win. They love the feelings of winning. Nobody enters a competition wanting to lose.

    Competitive approaches influence students to work against each other, rather than for each other and with each other. "Serve yourself" is the motto. Competition often fosters feelings of disappointment, which diminish the innate desire to participate in an activity.

    Teachers of early grades work with children who come to school eager to learn, but competition dulls their spirit. For example, when the kindergarten teacher says, "Boys and girls, let's see who can make the best drawing?" the competitive spirit is fostered. The assumption, of course, is that this charge will spur the youngsters to do their best. Unfortunately, however, the teacher has set up only one of the students to be the winner. Even if all the pictures were to be posted, the inference is that only one student would have the best picture. The teacher has unintentionally fostered "non-winning" with the other children simply because competition, by its very nature, engenders winners and losers.

    In band and athletic competitions, losing builds character. However, when a student is first learning a skill, it is the successful experiences that build character and self-esteem. In the above example, the teacher could challenge the students without having them compete with each other by saying, "Boys and girls, let's see how good of a drawing you can make."

    As I visit classrooms from Los Angeles to New York City, I see the traditional mode of teachers asking questions and students (who want to participate) raising their hands to be called upon. This approach sets students up to compete for the teacher's attention. Using this approach, the only winner becomes the person the teacher calls upon. In a primary class, one can audibly hear the sound of disappointment in those who were not called on.

    The education community should not be stuck in the outmoded model of promoting competition between students. It is not the path to effective learning. A more effective strategy promotes total student involvement without competition.


    The advantages of collaboration over competition for improved learning have been known and demonstrated for many years.

    Here is a simple way to structure student interaction for maximum participation. First, two requisites: (1) Students have a learning buddy. (2) You have established a management attention procedure that allows you to almost instantaneously regain the attention of all students.

    Instead of asking a question, which often implies a correct answer, and then calling on a single person, pose the question. Posing, in contrast to asking, is open-ended, invites students to engage in thought, and engenders dialog.

    After students interact with each other, the teacher then discusses or gives the answer. Students quickly learn that the teacher is interested in everyone's involvement. In cases where one answer is correct, students who know it gain intrinsic satisfaction that comes from "being right."

    Here is a simple example that I used in my elementary, middle, and high school classes -- and one you can this month.

    The Friday before Presidents Day (February 18 this year), I show a picture of Mount Rushmore with the sculptured heads of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln. I introduce the topic by saying that on Monday we will be celebrating the presidents of our country and, to promote appreciation and celebration, school will not be held. I then pose a question students are to discuss with their learning buddies. With elementary students, the question relates to identifying the first and/or third president. With middle and high school students the question relates to a century in which one of the presidents lived or served in office.

    Notice that the strategy promotes 100 per cent participation because every student talks to a learning buddy. Even a shy student will participate with another student. Also, notice that students first grapple with the idea or concept. This approach of challenging students at the outset with discussion is the approach used so effectively in Japanese schools. This grappling fosters curiosity, interest, and motivation.

    In short, when activities are structured to be primarily collaborative, learning becomes noncompetitive, all students participate, and learning is enhanced.

    Subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY, at . Enter e-mail address and click on "Subscribe."

    Past Gazette Articles by Dr. Marshall:

    To read about the failings of punishments and rewards, go to

    Dr. Marshall's website:
    Email Dr. Marshall:
    © Dr. Marvin Marshall, 2002.