Other ways to have total involvement:
‘Pass it on’: This is an activity that can work very well in a large room with fixed seats (as well as any size group or classroom) Ask each person to take out a half-sheet of paper or give them an index card that they can pass around the room. Ask them to note down something that relates to what you have been doing in the class (be sure to let them know that whatever they write will be shared). It can be something that they do, think or believe or it can be a fact you presented, or it can be a question they want to ask others. Give them 1-2 minutes, then ask them to fold it in half, and pass it along X number of spaces (enough that it is not obvious who wrote what). They then open it, and either add a comment, or a question, or edit it (depends on what you asked them to do). You can vary the number of passes, depending on time; in the end, it has to come back to the person who wrote it. You can then either move on, or ask people to say what they got out of the edits. It has a nice component of quiet writing and reflection, but is also very active, and can link to small group or whole class discussions.
Throw a snowball: Everyone is involved. Contributions are shared. It’s quick and fun. And it can give you information too (if you collect all of them afterwards.). To do it, have everyone prepared with a half-sheet of loose paper. Ask them to print (legibly) their response to your posed question on the sheet (and tell them it will be shared with others). Now, ask them to crumple it into a loose ‘snowball’, gently toss it into the group, then pick one up and read it. You could ask for 1-2 examples to be read out loud, or you could collect them all, type up and share with the class.
Way to invite students to connect the course to current events:
What’s news? Design in-class activities where students connect current events and issues to course material. I do this as a ‘flexible assignment’ choice whereby students can speak to the class about this briefly (2-5 minutes), or they can build it into a short lesson (12-15 minutes) that they teach the class (after having me okay their draft lesson plan). I also encourage students to connect current events and issues into their learning portfolio final assignments (see the publication below that describes this). Finally, I bring current events to class to introduce a new topic; the article can be factual, controversial, or opinion (or sometimes all three at once!).