Monday, May 26, 2008

Using Students as a Teaching Tool

In the blog post Students Teaching Students, Kim Cofino writes about how she plans to embed 21st century literacy skills into their units of study next year. She writes that:

“The grade 5 students will create a Students Teaching Students podcast focused on helping other students learn and use quality strategies for reading. This is an educational podcast teaching other students how to become good readers using RW strategies that they learn over the course of the year.”

The article “Folsom school club trains students to work with their autistic peers” talks about a social facilitation club where Students in the club sign a lifetime pledge that reads in part, "I promise to care about you, keep you from harm and help you with your troubles."

After reading both of these, it reminded me that we don’t use our students enough as a teaching tool. Many of my students learn better from their peers than from me. I remember one time when I got so frustrated along with a student when he couldn’t grasp a math concept and I tried to explain it about three different ways. Another student came over and asked if he could help and try to explain it differently so I let them go off to the side to work this out. I listened to the explanation given and saw how the first student suddenly grasped the idea. He was so excited he could solve the problem and was willing to finish his work on his own. The second student grinned ear to ear at me because he did something that I couldn’t and told me to call on him anytime. What a great feeling that was for a student who had difficulties himself and was always on the “getting” end instead of the “giving” end.

Many students learn how to play games through their peers so why not have them learn academics? It not only boosts self esteem for the “teacher” but I think it helps the student retain the material they have learned. I have had my high school special education students go to the elementary school to help those students and even read stories to them. The younger kids looked up to the older kids which made the older ones behave better because they wanted to set a good example.

We tend to underestimate the students and not realize that they can be sensitive enough to help others that are having difficulties. Isn’t this a great way to teach compassion and tolerance?

Photo credit: Counting at the Math Meeting by Old Shoe Woman


Anonymous said...

I totally agree that the power of students teaching students is both undertapped and has tremendous potential. Not only is it often the best way to reach students that may be struggling, but it's so empowering for those students that are doing the teaching to have such an authentic purpose and audience. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this little project turns out next year. I can already see tons of ways we can add in some international collaboration too!

loonyhiker said...

Kim: I look forward to seeing how it turns out and will be watching for updates!