No Series: Card-O-Matic: Increasing Student Participation

Card-O-Matic: Increasing Student Participation

Lesson Objective: Ensure student participation with this index card strategy
All Grades / All Subjects / Participation


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does this system hold students accountable in a positive way?
  2. What does Ms. Ritter do to provide more think time for students who need it?
  3. For what other purposes could this strategy be used?


  • Private message to Lauren Mullens

 1. This holds the students accountable for the information so it keeps the children on task and focused on the lesson material due to the fact that their name could be called at random.

 2. She will give those students she knows needing the extra time a heads up that way it brings their anxiety levels down so they can think about what they are going to say when they answer.

 3. I think this strategy could also be used for a pop quiz or test review questions vs. just during a lesson.

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  • Private message to Shay Centilli

This is a great tool to make sure every students name is called upon, rather than tools like pulling popscile sticks due to not everyones name being calls. Also using the names more than once in the stack is nice, because then they will make sure they are paying attention. 

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  • Private message to Avery Baird

The use of these cards and the students' names is great. The students can sometimes feel left out if they are not called or feel like the teacher is picking on them if they are called on too much, so this is a great way to eliminate both. This also makes the students stay engaged during the whole lesson because their name could be called more than once and they can not zone out. I also like how she pointed out this gives the student a little bit of time to think about an answer or the lesson before being called on, which does decrease the anxiety of being called on in front of their peers.

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  • Private message to Rhonda Jewell
Hi Tammy, I've been meaning to say this to you for two years now. When I saw your video in the summer of 2014, I decided to try the card-o-matic for my 2014-2015 5th grade class. I'm so happy that I did that! That ring of cards stayed on my left pinky finger all day long and became a part of our minute-by-minute whole group instructional routine for all subjects. I even put a few students names in there more than once if I felt it was necessary to keep them more engaged and I threw in a few "teacher choice" cards with stickers all over them too. I made a big deal, or scene, when I flipped to a "teacher choice" card and those 5th graders ate it up! I made sure to shuffle the cards in front of the class each Monday and Wednesday so the students knew it was truly random. I'm going on my 2nd year as an instructional coach. I served three schools last year and am at home at just one school this year. This card-o-matic is still something I make to go into many classrooms when I model for or co-teach with a teacher. Most teachers seems to like it better than random sticks. Thank you for sharing this idea! Much appreciated.
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  • Private message to Kassidy Ellenberger
I really like this idea and how the students are in there twice as well as shuffling them! Great tip!
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  • TIPS & TRICKS: Tammy Ritter – “Card-O-Matic” Program Transcript

    Tammy Ritter (Interview):
    The tip I have is called the “Card-O-Matic.”

    TIPS & TRICKS: Tammy Ritter – “Card-O-Matic” Program Transcript

    Tammy Ritter (Interview):
    The tip I have is called the “Card-O-Matic.”
    Ritter (Interview):
    …And what this is, is a way to call on students, and I write everybody’s name
    down on a 3-by-5 card, and I hole-punch it in the corner, and put it on a ring.
    And what this does is it helps me make sure that I’m calling on everyone and not
    just the same students over and over again.
    And also it holds the students accountable for listening to the information, and
    they have to pay attention because their name could get called at any moment.
    And after I’ve called on them once, their name could come up again, so they
    can’t just tune out. So… “Oh, I already had a turn, so now I can just tune out and
    think about something else.” So, being that they’re in there twice, they know that
    their name could come up again shortly.
    And then they start to memorize where they are in the cards, so that’s why I
    shuffle the cards periodically so they never know.
    And it also helps with giving those kids that need extra think time… I can use it to
    forewarn students that they’re coming up next in the cards, so when I get to
    them, it lessens their anxiety, ‘cause they’ve had a chance to think about what
    they’re going to say.
    It’s called the “Card-O-Matic.”

School Details

Odyssey Charter School
725 West Altadena Drive
Altadena CA 91001
Population: 460

Data Provided By:



Tammy Ritter
English Language Arts Math Science Social Studies / 1 2 / Teacher


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