Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner

By Persida Himmele and William Himmele

ASCD Online Study Guide

Chapter 1

  1. What are Total Participation Techniques?
  2. Describe the Beach Ball scenario. What implications does this type of questioning have on student learning?
  3. Discuss the term listening objects. What are the implications of all that is entailed in that term? What personal experiences can you share related to that term?
  4. How might Total Participation Techniques support all learners, from preschool through college physics?

Chapter 2

  1. Reflect on the first two chapters of this book. How might the consistent use of Total Participation Techniques have prevented disengagement, drop-out, and school failure for many children?
  2. At what points in your academic career would your teachers' use of Total Participation Techniques have helped you? What students in your class would benefit from Total Participation Techniques?
  3. Reflecting back on the examples of lessons taught by Liz Lubeskie, Keely Potter, and Meghan Babcock, what struck you as the most important elements that they used to create cognitively engaging classrooms?
  4. Draw a picture that represents what you think is happening in the mind of a student when he or she is engaged in higher-order thinking. Now, put it in words. What do you think is happening when a student is engaged in higher-order thinking?

Chapter 3

  1. Which of the On-The-Spot TPTs lend themselves to what you will be teaching this week or next week?
  2. Rank the top three TPTs from this chapter that you think you'd find most useful. How might you remind yourself to try these TPTs out several times during the next few days?
  3. Try a few out, and reflect on their benefits and limitations in your classroom.

Chapter 4

  1. Which hold-ups could you make use of while you are teaching your current unit?
  2. Generate questions for your hold-ups that lend themselves to both lower and higher-order thinking.
  3. How might you use a hold-up during a faculty meeting or professional development activity to help teachers interact and process their thinking about cognitive engagement?

Chapter 5

  1. Which students would most benefit from interactive TPTs involving movement?
  2. How are movement and learning connected? Reflect on times when getting up and moving enhanced your own learning experiences.
  3. Rank the three activities from this chapter that you feel most drawn to use. Explain your rankings.
  4. Try out a few of these TPTs involving movement. Reflect on the benefits and limitations for teaching and learning.

Chapter 6

  1. Discuss the opening quote in chapter 6. Do you agree or disagree with the statement "In order to be good at it, you have to love teaching first and then your content"? Explain your rationale.
  2. Rank the four TPT activity-based chapters (Chapters 3-6). In order of usefulness, which ranks first, second, third, and fourth? Explain your rationale.
  3. Though this chapter deals with note-taking, how might the principles and the activities be used with younger children in debriefing presentations?
  4. Try a few of these activities in your classroom. Share your reflections.

Chapter 7 Building a TPT-Conducive Classroom

  1. What learning differences have you noticed in students throughout your educational career?
  2. With regard to your views on learning differences, how is your philosophy similar to or different than those of Jack Welch or the authors? What in your classroom reflects your views?
  3. How do you help children build confidence?
  4. What are your thoughts on the power of teacher intervention with regard to peer rejection and acceptance?
  5. Discuss the importance of consistency and follow-through.

Chapter 8

  1. How might teachers make the most of formative assessments, ensuring that the results of their assessments improve student learning?
  2. Describe the one-liner wall. How does it operate as a formative assessment in causing the formation of new learning?
  3. How do the authors view the purposes of assigning grades? What are their thoughts regarding using TPTs in assigning grades?
  4. How do you view the purpose(s) of assigning student grades? What are your thoughts regarding using TPTs in assigning grades?

Chapter 9

  1. In what ways can you remind yourself to check for and monitor total participation?
  2. What kinds of TPT-folder items would best support teaching and learning in your classroom?
  3. Over the next week, infuse your lessons with TPTs. What do you notice about students, student learning, and yourself? What has surprised you?


  1. Ask a trusted colleague or literacy coach to observe your lesson and conduct a quadrant analysis of the sequence of your lesson's activities.
  2. How did you implement TPTs? What worked particularly well? What might have enhanced higher-order thinking and total participation?
  3. What extension activities or ideas might further the learning for your students?