What characteristics might Mrs. Nash look for in a reading approach?

Page 1: Overview of PALS

pals26_01_sweaterAs she conducts her research into strategies and approaches to help improve the reading skills of her fifth-grade students, Mrs. Nash discovers Peer Assisted Learning Strategies for reading (PALS-R or PALS). PALS, modeled after ClassWide Peer Tutoring (CWPT), is an approach to teaching children important reading skills. It complements the existing reading curriculum by providing research-validated learning strategies through peer-mediated instruction (i.e., peer pairing, peer tutoring). In the PALS approach, teachers pair a high-performing reader with a low-performing one in order to complete activities designed to promote the development of reading skills. PALS incorporates:

  • Highly structured activities that have been demonstrated to improve students’ learning
  • Reciprocal peer tutoring (i.e., during the session, each student in the pair serves as a coach and as a reader)
  • The use of scripted prompts
  • Frequent verbal interaction and feedback between the coach and reader
  • A competitive game format

Listen now as Doug Fuchs discusses the development of PALS, and Lynn Fuchs highlights the main features of the approach.

dougFuchs3
Doug Fuchs, PhD
Nicholas Hobbs Endowed Chair
in Special Education and Human Development
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

(time: 0:55)

View Transcript

lynnFuchs3
Lynn Fuchs, PhD
Nicholas Hobbs Endowed Chair
in Special Education and Human Development
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

(time: 0:42)

View Transcript

 

For Your Information

A major component of the response to intervention (RTI) approach is high-quality instruction. In RTI, the instruction provided in the general education classroom is referred to as Tier 1 instruction. Research on PALS indicates that most of the students who engage in this strategy demonstrate improved reading performance. As a result, PALS is now promoted as a promising Tier 1 instructional strategy, and in some schools is also being implemented as a Tier 2 intervention.

Though PALS was originally developed for use with students in grades 2–6, the approach was later expanded to include versions for students in Kindergarten, first grade, and high school. (Although there is no version of PALS specifically designed for seventh- and eighth-grade students, teachers may choose to use either PALS for grades 2–6 or PALS for high school with those students.) As might be expected, the target skills and corresponding activities vary from group to group, but the main features of the approach are largely the same.

The table below outlines the reading skills addressed by each group and the activities used to improve those skills.

  Kindergarten 1st Grade 2nd–6th Grades High School
Skills
  • Phonological awareness
  • Decoding
  • Decoding
  • Word recognition
  • Fluency
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
Activities
  • Decoding
    • Letter Sounds
    • Decodable Words
    • Sight Words
    • Sentences
  • Partner Reading
  • Sounds and Words
    • Letter Sounds
    • Decodable Words
    • Sight Words
    • Short Stories
  • Fluency Game
  • Partner Reading
  • Partner Reading with Retell
  • Paragraph Shrinking
  • Prediction Relay
  • Partner Reading with Retell
  • Paragraph Shrinking
  • Prediction Relay

Because Mrs. Nash is interested in approaches appropriate for fifth-grade students, this Module will highlight PALS for grades 2–6.

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