Tuesday Tips: Nametags for Classroom Discussion

One important classroom discussion skill is learning to call classmates by name.

Although many of my students have been in classes together for several years, they don’t necessarily know all of their classmates’ names. This is similar, I suppose, to the way I know most of the faculty by sight but not by name–a situation I work to correct but somehow never completely remedy.

Other students have recently moved to the area or have recently decided to take my class.  These students already feel at a disadvantage just from having to move to a new school for their senior year of high school.  I would like to help them adjust in any small way that I can.

Basically, I’m trying to avoid a couple of situations:

  1. That only a select group of students know each others’ names.
  2. That discussion becomes a series of pronouns or vague identifiers and pointed fingers: “like what he said” or “what that girl over there said.”

So I make nametags. I guess these are more accurately called “name tents.”

Two Nametags

I print these out on cardstock. The students fold them lengthwise into a tent-like shape.  Each student writes his or her name on the blank side.

photo 4

When they are folded, the discussion norms are facing the individual student and the student’s name is facing the class.  Students can see classmates’ names and also are constantly reminded of good discussion etiquette.

Discussion Norms on Nametag

It seems to work well. The only problem is that students cannot keep up with their nametags and lose them throughout the year.  I’m still working on that issue. . .

What strategies do you use to help students learn and/or use each others’ names?


  1. If you have your students keep composition notebooks in your class you could have them glue in a Manila envelope to keep them inside.


  2. I collect nametags and keep them in my room…teenagers lose everything! I use a one large paper clip per class.

    I also do “hello kitty name ball” as a mid class energizer. They just throw a hello kitty stuffed animal around the room saying the persons name before releasing. Super simple and fun!


  3. I like this. It will be great for feedback and refelction, too. When the students pull them out, they can (with some reminding maybe) focus on skills (or even norms) they want to improve–maybe even put a subtle dot or less subtle highlight by the one they need to work on–one you gave them feedback on or they, in their refelctions, discovered they need to work on. Cool idea!


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