## Peer Teaching in teams of three

... and suggestions for some other forms of peer teaching

24th March 2017

... and suggestions for some other forms of peer teaching

24th March 2017

Neil Finney is a teacher who shared a peer teaching experiment in an article called Students Teaching Students – The Peer Math Experiment. The article is copied below.

A few years ago, students in my class were given a math problem to complete. The question involved solving an equation with one variable (e.g. 2x + 5 = 11). In the classes leading up to this activity, we had learned about variables, how to isolate them, and how to solve for the unknown. Or at least, I thought the class had learned about these things. What I found as I walked around the room to see how students were doing is that about half the class did not, in fact, know how to solve the problem.

My first reaction was frustration since I knew that I had taken the time to teach the lessons needed to attain this skill. How could they not understand how to do this? We have been over this for days now? Were they not listening? Was I not reaching them? What am I missing here?

I put my own practice under the lens for a moment and realized that the problem could lie in many places. The most important thing at this moment was to teach a skill (i.e. solving math equations) to the students – in one way or another. I asked the class to hold up the whiteboards they were working on, and I took note of the students who had the correct process and response. I asked those students to move to the left side of the room.

The students who did not demonstrate the skill were paired up with students who were successful. It was the job of the students who already knew how to solve the equation to teach the other student. I wrote a new set of equations on the board and asked them to complete 3 together.

Now in an intermediate classroom, you might find that the student who already knows how to solve the questions will just go ahead and do it – without teaching their peer. To remedy this, I announced that the marks for the “peer teachers” depended on the success of their teaching of their assigned “peer student.” There would be a reflection following the ‘peer teaching’ lesson and the results received by the “peer helper” would be the same as “the helped”.

The shift in mindset was complete. Collaborative motivation and commitment skyrocketed. In fact, some of the pairings (that would not have otherwise cooperated) found a way to make it work and be successful. I found a resource in the classroom that exponentially improved my teaching success. Why be the “talking head,” when you can use the many heads around you to help educate?

My first reaction was frustration since I knew that I had taken the time to teach the lessons needed to attain this skill. How could they not understand how to do this? We have been over this for days now? Were they not listening? Was I not reaching them? What am I missing here?

I put my own practice under the lens for a moment and realized that the problem could lie in many places. The most important thing at this moment was to teach a skill (i.e. solving math equations) to the students – in one way or another. I asked the class to hold up the whiteboards they were working on, and I took note of the students who had the correct process and response. I asked those students to move to the left side of the room.

The students who did not demonstrate the skill were paired up with students who were successful. It was the job of the students who already knew how to solve the equation to teach the other student. I wrote a new set of equations on the board and asked them to complete 3 together.

Now in an intermediate classroom, you might find that the student who already knows how to solve the questions will just go ahead and do it – without teaching their peer. To remedy this, I announced that the marks for the “peer teachers” depended on the success of their teaching of their assigned “peer student.” There would be a reflection following the ‘peer teaching’ lesson and the results received by the “peer helper” would be the same as “the helped”.

The shift in mindset was complete. Collaborative motivation and commitment skyrocketed. In fact, some of the pairings (that would not have otherwise cooperated) found a way to make it work and be successful. I found a resource in the classroom that exponentially improved my teaching success. Why be the “talking head,” when you can use the many heads around you to help educate?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ End of Neil Finney's article +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In the article, Promote peer teaching between your students I suggest that students within an engaged classroom tend to naturally want to help each other, an action which I refer to as organic, natural peer teaching. I suggest that this spontaneous form of peer teaching is to be encouraged. However certain situations call for more structured peer teaching.

The video below comes from the online guided learning journey, Engagement - Winning over your mathematics class. It describes a ‘Teams of three’ peer teaching strategy which arose from a similar scenario as described by Neil Finney, above.

The video below comes from the online guided learning journey, Engagement - Winning over your mathematics class. It describes a ‘Teams of three’ peer teaching strategy which arose from a similar scenario as described by Neil Finney, above.

The video below is one of many featured in the course and peer teaching is one of many strategies participating teachers choose to implement as a requirement.

What do you think? Do you use peer teaching? If not would you consider now? Please comment below. (Your email address will not be required)

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