Thursday, January 10, 2013

Student to Student Coaching

As I read Hattie's book, Making Learning Visible for Teachers, I was struck with the research related to the success of student-to-student collaboration.  Research demonstrates that there's power in students working with students.

Hence on my quest to meet my SMART goal for the new MA evaluation system, and to help all my students reach fluency and facility with math facts, I started a student coaching effort for math facts.

Like most good endeavors in education, it has taken some time for this effort to show results.  Students are catching on to the many strategies possible to help their partners gain fact speed and accuracy.  I'm also catching on to the best ways to support and motivate this work.

Today after a successful hour-long coaching session, I asked students to share the strategies that worked.  They shared the following successful strategies:
  • Work on the bean bag chairs because it's relaxing and comfortable.
  • Don't be too harsh or strict, be encouraging.
  • Focus on the facts that they have the most trouble with and repeat those facts often.
  • Say the whole fact sentence such as 8 X 6 = 48 instead of just the answer.
  • Play catch as you practice the facts.
  • Play games such as "Fact War."
  • Use the computers and coach your partner using That Quiz.
  • Teach your partner strategies to help them remember the fact.
  • Break the fact down into pieces and help your partner solve the fact that way.

The Individual goal is to get 100 facts correct in five minutes or less.  The class goal is to get all the facts individually in a total of 125 minutes.  Our class total right now is 228 minutes so we have a ways to go.

This week I'm offering three small prizes as incentives:
  • A prize for the team whose combined time improvement percentage is the greatest.
  • A prize for the individual who makes the greatest time percentage improvement. 
  • The fastest fact student.
Noting the percentages rather than the times for two prizes allows students to gain a prize if their time is still more than five minutes, but their improvement is substantial.

I was proud of my young coaches and learners today.  We'll continue the effort each week, and I'll report back on the results.