Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Peer Teaching

One of my favorite, and often most successful, ways in which I conduct a lesson is through peer teaching. In general, I will have formulated a lesson plan that involves the pairing off of my students (slightly different than a true group activity) in such a way as to build on each pairs' particular strengths and weaknesses. For example, if I am planning a Geometer's Sketchpad activity, I will have a bright math student, who may not be technologically savvy, paired with a classmate who knows the software extremely well, but may not be as good a math student. In this way, each member of the pair supports and compliments each other without either participant feeling "lost" in the activity or the concept. After introducing and setting up the parameters of the lesson, I can often just observe without feeling the need to interact with the pairs until they are ready to share their results. I have found this to be a great way to cover material in a teacher-lead, student-run fashion.


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

What do you do in those cases with the top student who both knows the math better and is more technically competent than the rest of the class? How do you keep them from getting bored or irritated at having to teach other kids rather than learning something new? Similarly what do you do with the bottom student who needs massive assistance to begin to get any clue? Or are your classes homogeneously grouped, so that the range is not 6 grade levels in ability, as it often is in heterogeneously grouped classes?

rickh823 said...

Actually, in truth, this methodology works best for me in my heterogeneous classes (which 4 out of my 5 classes are.) However, that being said, I do not have that wide a variety of abilities within these regular track classes. I have found that, for the most part, the kids feed off each in their pairs--in a healthy way; perhaps in part because they know that the rubric calls for each member of the pair to receive the same assessment/performance grade. In fact, in my one homogeneous section (Honors Geometry), the students are often too competitive within their own pairs which unfortunately results in more of an interactive role for me!

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