Friday, September 11, 2015

5 Benefits of Partners in the Classroom




It is so important to provide students with a variety of learning experiences in order to meet the needs of different learning styles and to keep students engaged.  Students engage in various activities individually, in pairs, in small groups, and as a whole class.  In my eighth grade math classes, one of my favorite ways to group my students is in pairs.  I have found significant benefits to this setup through the years.  Here are my top 5:

1 – Peer Teaching
Peer teaching is such an incredible mutually beneficial tool.  I group and pair students in a variety of ways.  One method involves matching a struggling learner with a student that has a strong understanding of the current topic.  The struggling learner benefits from hearing an additional explanation, or perhaps a different perspective, and the high-flyer develops a stronger understanding of the material by having to explain the concept aloud in their own words.  Win-Win.

2 – Increased Confidence
The Think-Pair-Share model is fantastic for increasing student confidence in the classroom.  Without the “pair,” I have often found it difficult to find volunteers who are willing to share their ideas.  However, once students have had a chance to compare and discuss their ideas with their neighbor, many more hands end up in the air.  The extra step of confirming that their own thought process is on the right track can sometimes be just enough of a push needed to boost participation.


3 – Increased Class Engagement
In a whole class discussion, most students are listening while one individual at a time shares their ideas.  Although there is a time and a place for this model, a disadvantage is that many students will be minimally engaged, if not completely disengaged.  On the other hand, allowing students to chat about a topic with a partner increases classroom participation because many students are able to talk at once.  All students can be engaged in meaningful conversation about the selected topic at the same time.

4 – Break from Direct Instruction
Much of my Accelerated Algebra 1 class consists of direct instruction.  Students take notes, try practice problems, then practice some more at home.  I often use frequent partner check-ins during class to break up the traditional direct instruction routine.  Students may be asked to explain a concept that we have just learned to their partner in their own words.  Or often times students try a practice problem on their own, then check answers with their partner and help one another out with any errors or misconceptions.

5 – Face-to-Face Communication
Let’s face it.  Face-to-face communication is not as prevalent in the lives of our students as it has been in ours.  With the rise in social media, many students text, Snapchat, Instagram, tweet, etc with their friends.  Working with a partner, requires use of verbal communication skills that are still imperative in today’s world.  I also love that students may need to branch out and interact with students they would not necessarily talk to outside of class.

Try it out!  My Discovery-Based Worksheet Series consists of worksheets designed to increase conceptual understanding by providing students with explorations into the connections that exist between mathematical concepts.  I use the Think-Pair-Share model often when facilitating these learning experiences.  

  
Your turn!  How do you use partners in your classroom? 
What other advantages have you witnessed?  Comment below.



6 comments:

  1. Think-pair-share is a favorite strategy of mine, and my students thrive with it. Expanding on it, I frequently have my high schoolers read primary sources in pairs, then they answer the questions together, (like you said it helps them gain confidence to participate), and then we discuss the material as a class. It always works well, and I'm trying it with middle schoolers for the first time this week, fingers crossed!

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    1. That sounds like a very appropriate strategy for a topic that can be intimidating for many students. Best of luck!

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  2. Love your blog design! Looks great :) I teach 1st grade and anything buddy work the kiddos love! My classroom this year is homogeneously grouped, but in years past I would be able to pair my high and low students together to have one of them be the 'teacher' and the other the learner or I pair two liked ability students together for extension activities. Sometimes I find their competitive nature helps push them to work harder when paired with a classmate!

    Enjoy your September!
    Melanie
    Momma with a Teaching Mission

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    1. Thank you! Great points. I also like to vary my grouping because there are certainly benefits to both homogeneous and heterogeneous groups.

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  3. Amanda, my 8th graders love working with partners. The activity I linked up has students creating their own transformation and then trading with another student to complete it. Then, they "grade" each other to make sure it's correct. A "challenge" version is included so the activity can be differentiated. I used this activity during my teaching observation and my principal really liked it!

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    1. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. : )

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