Peer coaching can be a very meaningful method to use in the classroom to ensure success for all students. The most important thing to remember when pairing students is to be sure not to put two struggling students together or two students on different extremes. This can be frustrating for the one on the higher end of the extreme.
Peer coaching works well for both students. One student works as the teacher where the teacher communicates his or her thinking to the other student. This is the most important part of the teacher role- sharing their thinking. The other student acts as the coach. The coach makes sure that the teacher is on the right track. If they notice the teacher is attempting the assignment in the wrong way they can help the teacher readjust his or her thinking. They are also responsible for praising the teacher as well. So this role acts as a reinforcement or as a helpful reminder.
Both students benefit from this activity as the highest level of mastery is being able to teach others. On the other hand, when a child doesn't understand it helps to have it explained by a peer and in a one-on-one practice. This also allows the teacher (you) to circulate to be sure the partnership is mutually beneficial and that both students are understanding the concept.
I love to use peer coaching during math. I have noticed that my students are better able to explain their strategies and thinking because they are so accustomed to doing this during peer coaching. This is an important shift in the Common Core in the math standards- being able to explain your thinking and being able to justify your answer.
I know Alexis uses this a great deal as well, which has led to significant success in her 4th grade classroom. She has created many products that involve peer coaching in math. Check them out! They are awesome!
We have both also used this in writing to help on specific skills such as writing grabbers or using correct punctuation. Another way to use this activity is to take a traditional worksheet on something such as multiple meaning words and allow peer coaching to make this a higher level more engaging activity. Or if you are short on printing funds, you may want to pose the problem or question and allow students to work through this on a whiteboard while using peer coaching.
The possibilities are endless!
Check out some of the products we have created that involve peer coaching!