Whether you are teaching virtually or face to face, chances are that you will need to call on students. Even after decades of teaching, I often had to make a conscious effort not to fall into the bad habit of choosing students eager to raise their hands first more often than anyone else. The best way to combat this was to employ a few “Name Picker Tools” over time. Some are online, some are apps/extensions, and some are part of other software (like Class Dojo). I’m going to stick to the free ones that allow you to save your lists. However, as always, be wary of privacy and the permissions you give when you use these tools. There are also ads on some of the pages that can be distracting to students, so definitely test them out before using them with a class.
UPDATE 10/13/2022: I just published a post with even more name pickers and even some fun online timers here.
UPDATES 7/21/2022: Here is an editable wheel spinner template that works in Powerpoint only from SlidesMania. Also, this post from TCEA includes some more suggestions. One that I really like because you can customize and embed the wheel on your own site is Wheel Decide.
- Wheel of Names – Web-based, allows text and/or photos, and you can customize and save. (You will need to sign in with a Google or Twitter account to save. See more about this tool on Richard Byrne’s site, including a short video demonstrating its features.
- Classroom Screen – Web-based. The random name chooser and group maker widgets are two of the many ways you can use this versatile tool. The free version allows you to save three class lists.
- Flippity – Got a spreadsheet of names? Flippity can turn it into a Random Name Picker (or a bunch of other interactives).
- Google Classroom Mobile App – Obviously only helpful if your students are enrolled in Google Classroom! Here’s a quick video to show you how to use it.
- Random Name Picker from Class Tools – Once you create a list here, you are given a unique web address where it is saved. You can generate a link, QR code, and even an embed code to add it to a website.
- Popsicle Sticks App – I haven’t tried this one yet, but there are free and paid versions. Only available for iOS.
If you have any other name pickers that are free, reliable, and allow you to save them, please let me know in the comments!