How can Mrs. Garcia implement these activities?

Page 7: Pair Students

Two girls studyingMrs. Garcia has learned that in PALS students are systematically paired so that each dyad consists of one higher-performing reader and one lower-performing reader. The teacher ranks his or her students based on reading achievement level, divides the list in half, and pairs the top high-performing student with the top low-performing one (and this might include pairing a student with a disability with one without a disability). The process continues until all of the students have been paired.

Step 1: Rank students

Mrs. Garcia ranks her students based on their reading skills. Although there are several options available for determining students’ reading skills, Mrs. Garcia chooses to administer a quick reading assessment with a maximum score of 120.

NAME READING SCORE
Shelby 97
Braxton 91
Micah 89
Jarod 87
Brooklyn 85
Denzel 82
Presley 80
Damarius 79
Cheena 77
Maleah 77
Angel 75
Sam 73
Ella 72
Chris 70
Jordayne 68
Deandre 67
Constance 67
Aisha 64
Raul 55
Tomas 51
Graham 43
Andy 35
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Step 2: Divide list

Divide the list of students in half.

Step 3: Move halves next to each other

Arrange the two halves side-by-side and pair the higher-performing student in the first column to the corresponding lower-performing student in the second. Continue this process until all of the students have been paired.

Arrange the two halves side-by-side and pair the higher-performing student in the first column to the corresponding lower-performing student in the second. Continue this process until all of the students have been paired.

Higher
performance level
Shelby 97
Braxton 91
Micah 89
Jarod 87
Brooklyn 85
Denzel 82
Presley 80
Damarius 79
Cheena 77
Maleah 77
Angel 75
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Lower
performance level
Sam 73
Ella 72
Chris 70
Jordayne 68
Deandre 67
Constance 67
Aisha 64
Raul 55
Tomas 51
Graham 43
Andy 35
arrow
Pair 1

Although they may remain with the same partner for up to four weeks, it is recommended that high school students change partners as often as every day. This is so for two reasons:

  • High absenteeism tends to disrupt partner consistency
  • Students usually enjoy working with a variety of partners

Of course, teaming up students will occasionally produce unsuccessful pairs. The table below outlines several reasons that a student dyad might not work out.

Reason Example
Student academic needs A discrepancy in the students’ abilities is too large to accommodate learning.
Behavior issues The student pair has difficulty following instructions and the PALS rules, creating a disruptive environment.
Student incompatibility The stronger reader does not work well with the struggling student, exhibiting disrespect and offering inappropriate feedback.
Absenteeism One student is absent for the day.

Teachers should plan ahead for how student absenteeism will affect their PALS sessions. Below are several recommendations to ensure that all students can engage in a reading activity even in the event that one or more students are not present.

  • A higher-performing reader might read independently for the session (though this should be done as infrequently as circumstances will allow).
  • An unpaired student might join another pair to form a triad. Each student will serve as the Coach during one of the three reading activities.
  • If the partners of two students are absent, those students can be paired for the session. As always, the pairs will read from the lower-performing readers’ book.

For Your Information

Three Girls ReadingIt is often the case that a classroom will contain an odd number of students, leaving one student without a partner. In such an instance, teachers may need to create a group of three students (a triad). When such a grouping does become necessary, teachers might wish to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Each student can serve as the Coach for one of the three activities and the Reader for the remaining two.
  • One student with average or above reading and social skills can be assigned to a triad but serve as a “floater,” filling in for other students when they are absent.
  • It is better to place higher-performing students in triads than it is to assign struggling readers to these groups because students in triads have fewer opportunities to practice their reading.

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