Peer teaching in the Math Classroom
How to get your students to become better at “doing” and “speaking math” in your classroom. The answer is peer teaching! This formative assessment helps boost confidence and changes the way students learn math. Peer teaching is one of the best ways to master a particular subject.
Place students into pairs. Assign one student as student A and the other as student B. (If there is an odd amount then make a group of 3 with two A’s or two B’s) This tells them who gets the stage to teach first.
Setting the stage:
Students need to know this is a time for learning and there is no expectation of them being perfect, as they are not the actual teacher. Acknowledge that mistakes will happen and that is OKAY. Also let them know you are not expecting perfect sentences nor perfect vocabulary but encourage them, when possible, to incorporate them. Tell students you better not hear, “that’s not right” or “You are wrong”. This is the time to learn, not criticize. Have them ask a questions instead. (Placing a list of questions in your room is a great starting point for them if they are stuck.)
This is a CRITICAL part of the process.
Option 1. Model a math problem by just telling them what to do with their pencil. Example- subtract 5, subtract 5, divide by 2, divide by 2, x=6. Provide students no explanations as to why.
Option 2. Model a math problem with justifications and reasonings for each step. (The proper way of teaching). Example- if you want to get x by itself first you must zero out the 5 by subtracting 5 because that is the opposite operation and to keep the equation true you must do it on the other side. Turn the 2x into a 1x by dividing by 2 because you want to create a whole fraction. You must keep it balanced by dividing by 2 on the other side. Thisl eaves us with x=6.
End this process by asking students which way they would rather me teach them. Any time I have ever done this, most students pick option 2. I say most because there are always those smart alec high schools who pick option 1.
SIDE NOTE: Consistency is key. The more math verbiage you constantly use will hopefully transfer to them using it. This will lead to better understanding and less memorization.
Put into practice:
After showing students an example and going through a couple problems together you will then assign student A or student B to teach an example to their partner. Walk around monitoring, model questioning and encourage. Give lots of praise during this time. Some students are very shy and will be timid. Therefore, stick with the classic “sandwich”. (praise, critique, praise) I have found that peer teaching is not used in most math classes and is new to many students. I promise if you stick with it students will buy in. Repeat this process with another example and switch "teachers".
Tell them your WHY:
1. The more your can explain, the more you are understanding which will make it easier to connect this knowledge to another lesson.
2. The more you listen and analyze what someone is saying, the more knowledge you are gaining.
3. The more questions you produce means you are understanding at a deeper level.
4. I want you to gain confidence and know this is a space place to make mistakes.
Check out this blog post to see the big picture of how it is used in my teaching routine.