Don't you just hate it when you have to choose a child to do something, and they're ALL sitting quietly, doing exactly what you asked? (Don't laugh...it happens!) It's SO hard to choose, and I for one do not have the memory capacity to know who got to have a turn last week, or even last hour! When I first started teaching elementary music, a veteran teacher told me how she does it, and I have been making her system mine for 15 years now. It totally works!
I call it the "Who's Next?" board. I have an envelope for every class that comes to music each week. This year, I labeled them with grade/day of the week, hoping it will be helpful for subs and reusable next year. I have also put teacher's names on the envelopes in the past.
The first or second week of school, I have each class make their cards. I give them an index card and ask them to write their name VERY neatly, and their class code (helps in case a card gets separated from the stack). The older kids also have to write a sentence. This year I used, "I am good at..." It's a great way for them to tell me what they love and are good at, plus forces them to focus on a positive trait. AND, we are putting a huge emphasis on writing on our campus, so this is a way I can help toward that goal.
The cards go in the class envelope. When I need to choose a child to do something, I always take the front card, then put it in the back. The kids know that their card will not be chosen again until ALL of the other cards have been pulled. Sometimes I will go through the whole stack in one class, other times I only need one or two. Either way, we all know no one will be forgotten. It is awesome! They don't beg or argue, and when someone starts to, the other kids will say, "she's going to pick a card!" and everyone is cool.
The next obstacle was to remember to put cards in for new students that move in throughout the year. Ahem, yeah, I'm not exactly known for my excellent memory....in my defense, I've had two babies and I'm over 40, so brain cells are leaking out everywhere. Anyway, I think I've found a solution:
I mounted a box to hold extra cards and a couple of pencils on the board. Next to it are directions for making your card. I told my kids that they can help new students when they come to music for the first time. There are always little helpers that will remember that way better than I will!
I love that all my students know that everyone is important, and I am doing my best to make sure no one is left out in music class. After all, everyone is expected to participate!