How can Mrs. Nash implement these activities?

Page 9: Train Students

pals26_09_teacheratboardBefore teachers can successfully implement any strategy in their classrooms, they first must ensure that their students are adequately trained. The training for PALS consists of twelve 35-minute sessions, which are typically held three days a week for four weeks. Through them, teachers gradually introduce their students to each of the strategy’s three activities, allowing them more opportunities to discretely practice Partner Reading with Retell, Paragraph Shrinking, and Prediction Relay before all three are combined into one session. The table below offers more detailed information about what students will learn during each session.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Session 1 Introduce PALS Introduce Retell Practice Paragraph Shrinking Introduce Prediction Relay
Session 2 Introduce Partner Reading Practice Partner Reading and Retell Practice Partner Reading, Retell, and Paragraph Shrinking Practice Prediction Relay
Session 3 Practice Partner Reading Introduce Paragraph Shrinking Practice Partner Reading, Retell, and Paragraph Shrinking Put It All Together

Training Procedures

Mrs. Nash will train her students during the regularly scheduled reading period. In order to teach her students about each PALS activity, she will:

1. Discuss PALS

Mrs. Nash will introduce PALS, highlighting the advantages of using the strategy. She will explicitly explain what the strategy is for, how it is used, and when it is useful. In addition, Mrs. Nash will:

  • Define terms that are specific to PALS (e.g., Coach, Reader, peer pairing).
  • During a PALS session, the teacher must encourage good behavior and enforce the rules. Although most of the established rules will apply, teachers should keep in mind the four rules recommended by the developers of PALS:

    • Talk only to your partner and only about PALS.
    • Keep your voice low.
    • Cooperate with your partner.
    • Try your best.

    (From Peer Assisted Learning Strategies: Reading Methods for Grades 2–6, by D. Fuchs, L. S. Fuchs, D. C. Simmons, and P. G. Mathes, 2008, p. 229.)

  • Describe the procedures for a PALS session.
2. Model PALS Activity

Mrs. Nash will model the set-up procedures and each reading activity. Additionally, through presentations and role-playing, she will:

  • Demonstrate the role of the Coach, especially how to provide corrective feedback.
  • Highlight appropriate social behaviors for students working in pairs.
3. Allow Time for Guided Practice

Once her students understand the basic principles of PALS, Mrs. Nash will allow them to practice what they have learned. During this time, Mrs. Nash will guide her students through the process as they:

  • Engage in the three PALS reading activities.
  • Practice gathering and putting away materials.
  • As with any classroom transition, teachers will wish to minimize the amount of time that their students are not engaged in academic activity. Because PALS requires students to work in pairs, there is a danger of losing valuable class time, but only if teachers fail to make a plan for getting partners seated next to each other. Below are two methods for moving students to their assigned partner.

    1. Because students are partnered for a three- to four-week period, the teacher can create a new seating arrangement—one in which partners are seated next to one another—each time new partners are assigned. Doing so will eliminate the need for students to move around the classroom to join their reading partners.
    2. The teacher can select one student from each pair to move to his or her partner for a PALS session. To limit noise and chaos, the teacher should train the students to move quickly and quietly with their materials in two minutes or less. To avoid a traffic jam in the middle of the class, it is also beneficial if the students who are moving are spread out across the room.

4. Allow Time for Independent Practice

When her students have become familiar with each of the strategies, Mrs. Nash will monitor their practice and provide corrective feedback. She will make certain that the students:

  • Perform the activities correctly.
  • Offer appropriate corrective feedback.
  • Maintain positive social interactions.
  • Observe the PALS rules.

Devin Kearns, MA
PALS trainer
Vanderbilt University

Devin Kearns explains that all students can learn to implement PALS (time: 0:26).

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