Call and Response

Choral Response

Call and Response is when students verbally respond in unison with an identical statement to a "call" (e.g., a statement or question). This strategy can be used to activate and prime students' brains for a learning activity as well as commit new learnings into long-term memory. Every call/response pairing has a specific purpose. For example, in order to promote persistence, a teacher might state prior to beginning a difficult academic task, "Doing your best..." and students would respond, "Means never stop trying!" Using each call/response pairing regularly throughout the school year strengthens students' capacities for learning new content and increases the speed at which they are able to recall knowledge and skills. Using Call and Response creates an energetic culture that positively engages the entire classroom. Essential Components of Call and Response: * Each "call" is unique and different from the others * "Call" elicits a specific, explicitly taught response from the students * Phrases are age-appropriate and easy to remember

Implementation Tips

Selecting and Remembering Phrases
When selecting phrases, especially when several call/response pairings are used in the classroom, help students remember each one by choosing responses that rhyme with the call or teaching students to put emphasis on certain syllables. Additionally, teachers and students can sing call/response pairings to the tune of songs familiar to all students (e.g., Alphabet Song, a popular pop song chorus, etc.)
Introducing a New Call & Response Pairing
When first introducing a call and response pairing, be sure to not only explicitly teach the new phrases by practicing them aloud, but also conduct direct instruction on what you expect students to do after responding. Watch this [[|video]] to see Call and Response in action.
Chunking Longer Responses
Practice longer responses by practicing phrases in smaller chunks. Once the small chunks have been mastered by the class, they can combine them for a longer response. Watch this teacher [[|practice a new call/response pairing with her students.]]
Pairing Physical Moves with Responses
For the kinesthetic or visual learner, it may be more effective to combine physical moves with responses. This includes pairing claps, snaps, or hand gestures with words in the responses as well as visual cues the teacher can pair with a "call".
Student Leaders
To increase student engagement, have student leaders be responsible for certain "calls". This gives students the opportunity to take lead and ownership of their learning.
Increase Engagement
Have students respond by matching the tone or the speed of the "call". Changing this element makes this strategy sustainably fun and engaging without changing the core purpose of the call/response pairing.


Igniting the Brain and Repetition for Learning
Use Call and Response as a way to introduce new material as well as a strategy to memorize a skill or complex content. For example, prior to teaching a new concept (e.g., mean/average), the teacher might teach students a specific call/response pairing (e.g., The teacher states, "The mean is mean, you want to know why?" and the students respond, "First you add them up then divide by.") The students and teachers would then use this call/response pairing throughout the lesson and/or unit in order to ensure long-term learning.
To Gain Attention
Call and Response can be used as a signal to gain the entire classroom's attention. Students are explicitly taught to be quiet and pay attention to the teacher or speaker after responding. For example, a teacher might ask, "All set?" and afters students respond, "You bet!" they remain silent and physically turn their bodies toward the speaker.
Call and Response can be used to signal transition to another activity. For example, in order to get students to begin their clean-up routine, a teacher might state, "Stack up, pack up, trash up" and after the students respond with, "Let's get ready to go!" they begin an explicitly taught clean-up routine: Stacking the chairs, packing their belongings, and throwing away any trash.
Use Call and Response to build community within your classroom. For example, a teacher might begin every day with the same Call and Response routine as follows: --Teacher: "What are we here for?" --Students: "TO LEARN!" --Teacher: “How are we going to that?” --Students: “Enthusiastically!” --Teacher: “Who cares about ya?” --Students: “You do!” --Teacher: "How do you know?" --Students: "You told us so!"

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