After about 16 days of school, I have implemented the first phase of my collaborative peer partnership project. My second grade students have learned how to be peer learners, while our fourth grade partners learned how to be peer teachers.
Through lessons, resources, and repetitive coaching, both grade levels were effective in learning a role in a successful peer learning and teaching relationship. My second graders also learned a new math skill focused on adding multiples to 10 to multiples of 100, and single digit values to multiples of 10 based on place value.
Throughout my summer internship it became evident how collaborative teamwork, communication, and effective teaching methods were essential skills to achieve goals and meet the expectations in today’s workforce. Many people I met over the summer at Carowinds were trained and developed skill sets from other employees, making the “teacher-learner” relationship an important facet in the professional world. These communication skills need to be learned early on since they extend well beyond any classroom, which is why I decided to directly focus on this idea through repetitive lessons and guided student practice.
I enjoyed watching students progress throughout the seven days of instruction and practice. I noticed the second grade students being very open to working with an older peer and highly engaged in the learning process. As the younger students became more familiar with the importance of following the four steps outlined on their “Peer Learner Resource Card”, they in turn became more effective in learning the math skill.
The older students were amazing. As new fourth graders, with some being more confident in math than others, they had the opportunity to be a leader and mentor with proper coaching. They followed the steps on the “Peer Teacher Resource Card” over and over when teaching a math skill. They could see how they were impacting the learning of another student as the days progressed. By Day 4, they started to add some of their own strategies and extensions to the math lessons based on observations of how their younger partner was doing each session. Isn’t this what good teachers do? Adapt the teaching and content to the needs of the learner? I was pleasantly surprised by the insight and maturity of the 4th graders. I was also pleased with the fact that they all seemed to be having fun!
The fourth grade students now have the ability to be peer teachers with one another in their own classroom. Learning from one another will be influential as they expand their knowledge of 4th grade math content. The second graders will continue to learn from one another in class, and will soon practice the “Peer Teacher” role with a kindergarten class.
With only a few weeks of school completed, in addition to the three school days cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, I feel as though I have empowered over 40 students to improve their collaborative skills in the classroom. I am excited to see how their partnership skills evolve and unfold as they continue to impact the learning of others while strengthening their own knowledge.