Ephesus Literacy Newsletter
Maximizing Student Engagement with Collaborative Pairs
Is "Turn and Talk" your go-to method for generating discussion? Want to get even more out of "talk?" We know that learning is enhanced when it is a social activity (Bandura & Vygotsky); however, not all talk sustains learning. Our Learning-Focused work encourages the use of Collaborative Pairs instead of Turn and Talk.
So, What Is It?
Things to consider
The labels you choose for Collaborative Pairs work (1s & 2s; As & Bs; Peanut butter & Jelly) is not as important as setting them up. The most effective ability pairings are: high-middle; middle-middle; middle-low. Avoid putting high achieving students with struggling learners.
Roles and Responsibilties
The beauty of Collaborative Pairs is the accountability it ensures. When done pervasively and consistently, students engage in the learning process because they know what to do, with whom to do it, and how quickly it needs to be done. It may look something like this: "1s tell 2s a definition for inference. 2s tell 1s an example of an inference you made while listening to today's chapter."
Research supports the need for students to organize information in order to learn it and retain it. Stopping to engage in academic talk allows learners to summarize and talk about learning in manageable chunks. This process helps students store information in long term memory.
Roles and Responsibilties
Benefits of Collaborative Pairs
- Increases student achievement - for ALL learners
- Helps students apply new knowledge and retain new information
- Creates a social setting and safe environment for testing out ideas
- Teaches collaboration and cooperation
- Energizes learning - reduces teacher talk, increases student participation
- Exposes students to perspectives other than their own
- Excellent, quick formative assessment tool for teachers
Collaborative Pairs in Action
This piece of the video doesn't show it, but following the Collaborative Pair conversations, Ms. Capps assigns her students a graphic organizer (t-chart labeled character traits & evidence from text) to complete independently. Because students have been actively engaged in conversation around the topic of traits and have been given time to reflect, process, practice, and clarify information with a partner, they are ready to write.
Fears & Pitfalls
Some teachers express discomfort when they first begin using strategies like Collaborative Pairs. As teachers, we get used to talking. We can feel a little "out of sorts" when the students take over the role of teacher/talker. Remember: talking cements thinking. Take advantage of the switch and LISTEN in on conversations. You'll get insight into student thinking and can quickly correct any misconceptions or highlight thoughtful insights.
Without a clear plan, Collaborative Pairs will become chaotic. Put some thought into pairings (see suggestions above) and model the behavior you wish to see (active listening, asking clarifying questions, respectfully disagreeing, etc.). Students should be taught about eye contact and encouraged to sit knee-to-knee when participating respectfully in discussion.