But with intention, this strategy becomes one that can benefit many.
Below are three examples of how I am attempting to integrate students teaching students into my math program this year:
Several students in my Grade 8 class are ready for the next challenge. This past week, a small group of them completed a self-researched ppt on Pythagorean Theorem, and presented it for five minutes at the beginning of the class.
The group seemed to enjoy taking centre stage to share their learning, and their peers seemed impressed with their work.
If only there were more time... we'd co-construct a set of criteria for what makes an effective peer presentation, and have more students do it on a regularly basis!
2. Making it Stick
For some students, a mini-lesson needs a little extra support to take root. Recently I was working on classifying 3-D shapes (polyhedra) with a group of grade 7s. At the end of the mini-lesson, I asked each student in the small group to share what s/he had learned with another person on my "to do 3D shapes with" list.
Not only does this solidify the learning for those in the original group, it saves me time as a teacher; rather than re-teaching the same lesson to a new group for 20 minutes, I can do a quick, 3-minute check-in the next time we have math, and then spend the other 17 minutes with students who require additional support in that or other areas! :)
3. For the Good of the Cause
The example I am most excited about is a student in Grade 8 who has made "effective communication" in math a goal. I've enlisted his help with a student in one of my Grade 7 classes who could really benefit from some 1:1 support.
Although they have not met yet (scheduling can be a bit of a nightmare), I am hopeful that this opportunity will provide the Grade 7 student with the support he desperately needs (both academic and social/emotional), while giving my friend in grade 8 a chance to develop his mathematical communication skills.
If this works, I am going to try and expand the program to include more students; they'll meet once or twice a week after school in my classroom.