Hold-Ups (The Language-Rich Classroom, 153)
A hold-up is a quick activity that can be used anytime you would like stu- dents to understand the differences between options. Hold-ups allow teachers to monitor comprehension. In an earlier example, a hold-up was done using the three branches of government, when 5th graders demonstrated confusion. In addition to being planned within lessons, hold-ups can easily be done as an impromptu activity where students can quickly take out a sheet of paper and write down the various options in large letters, rip each option out, and use them in a hold-up.
Here’s How Hold-Ups Work
1. Give students a printout with four to six answer options. For example, in Figure 6.3, the options are True, Not True, True with Modifications, and Unable to Determine.
2. After a prompt or a question, ask students to hold up the option they believe is the best choice. Pose statements or scenarios that either have a clear true or false answer or have answers that can be debated and modified to be either true or false.
The handout in Figure 6.3 can also be used with student predictions at the beginning of units, based on the pictures in their text. Teachers can create predictive statements or students can create them, and the teacher can select some predictions to be used with a True/Not True hold-up at the beginning of the unit or as a comprehension check throughout or at the end of the unit.
Here’s Why Hold-Ups Are Good for ELLs
Hold-ups allow for critical thinking opportunities within lessons. For example, during a unit on birds, a prediction was made that “Bald eagles have white heads and white tails.” Students can vote on this statement, holding up the appropriate True/Not True response. At first, the most obvious response may be “True,” but usually a few observant students will hold up “Not True” or “True with Modifications.” The ensuing dialogue between those who voted “true” and those who did not can lead to a fine-tuning of the statement so that it is made true: “Mature bald eagles have white heads and white tails.” Teachers who have tried this activity tell us that as students practice voting with True/Not True cards, an increasing number of students will start being more cautious about jumping to a conclusion. They’ll critically evaluate statements and look for loopholes and exceptions to what may seem true at first glance. This reflection time is especially important for ELLs.