Numbered Heads Together

This cooperative listening and speaking strategy provides opportunities for practice, rehearsal, and repetition or discussion of unit content in a way that makes each individual and each group accountable for learning. Students work together in small group to answer (and discuss, when appropriate) questions posed by the teacher before being called on at random to share their answer in front of the class.

Instructions

  1. The teacher first divides students into groups of four, and then assigns each member of the group a number. 

  2. The teacher gives a question or states a prompt to the class. Students in each group must work together and talk so that everyone in the group knows (and understands) the answer. All students are responsible for knowing how to answer the question.

  3. After students have finished talking about the question, the teacher calls out one of the numbers, and the student with that number from each group shares the group's answer to the question.

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. The teacher first divides students into groups of four and then assigns each member of the group a number. 

    The teacher gives a question or states a prompt to the class. Each group of students is then sent to a breakout room to discuss the answer(s) to the prompt or question. The teacher determines the amount of time that students will have based on the proficiency level of the students. All students are responsible for knowing how to answer the question or respond to the prompt. 

    For individual accountability, the teacher may ask all students to record their own responses to the prompt. This can be done using websites like Classkick or Formative. Alternatively, if the teacher wants students to be able to listen to each others' recorded responses, they may choose an app like Seesaw or Flipgrid for recording. 

    After students have finished talking about the question and/or recording, the teacher calls out one of the assigned numbers, and the student with that number from each group shares the group's answer to the question. The selected student may also be asked to write a response on an assigned Google Slide.

Helpful Tips

  1. The teacher may wish to assign standing groups for students to work in. This will allow students to transition into their assigned groups with less time wasted in transition. Remaining in the same group also allows students to learn to work together more effectively as a group. The group assignments can be changed at the start of each unit, once per semester, etc. 

  2. There are several variations for how a teacher may call on students in this activity. The teacher may ask: 

    • one or more students to answer
    • all students with a specific assigned number to go to the board and write their answers
    • each student to whisper the answer to the teacher

Materials

  1. Teacher-generated questions or prompts

  2. Number cards for selecting a number randomly