How can Mrs. Garcia implement these activities?

Page 9: Train Students

ClassroomBefore they can effectively implement a strategy in their classrooms, teachers must first ensure that their students are adequately trained. In the case of PALS, training is conducted every other day (i.e., two or three days a week) for six weeks and each session lasts 40–60 minutes. By breaking the training into sessions, teachers can gradually introduce their students to each of the three activities, allowing them more opportunities to practice Partner Reading with Retell, Paragraph Shrinking, and Prediction Relay in isolation before combining all of the activities into one session. The table below contains more detailed information about how teachers should arrange the six weeks of PALS training.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
  • Introduce PALS
  • Introduce Partner Reading with Retell
  • Practice Partner Reading with Retell
  • Introduce Paragraph Shrinking
Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
  • Practice Partner Reading with Retell and Paragraph Shrinking
  • Practice Partner Reading with Retell and Paragraph Shrinking
  • Introduce Prediction Relay
  • Practice Partner Reading with Retell, Paragraph Shrinking, and Prediction Relay

During this six-week training period, the students read from narrative text. Once they have mastered Partner Reading with Retell, Paragraph Shrinking, and Prediction Relay, their teacher can begin training them to:

  • Read for information using expository text (two 40–60 minute sessions)
  • Write checks, an important aspect of the incentive program (one 25–30 minute session)

Training Procedures

Mrs. Garcia trains her students during the regularly scheduled reading period. In order to successfully teach her students about PALS, she makes sure to follow the steps below.

1. Discuss the PALS approach

Mrs. Garcia introduces PALS, highlighting its advantages and benefits. She explicitly explains what the strategy is for, how it is used, and under what circumstances it is effective. In addition, Mrs. Garcia:

  • Defines 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 [PALS] for High School Students, by L. S. Fuchs, D. Fuchs, S. Kazdan, P. Mathes, and L. Saenz, 1997, p. A-2)

  • Stresses the importance of taking notes
  • Describes the procedures for a PALS session
2. Model PALS activities

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

  • Demonstrates the role of the Coach, most importantly how to provide corrective feedback
  • Highlights appropriate social behaviors for students working in pairs
3. Allow time for guided practice

Once the students understand the basic principles of PALS, Mrs. Garcia allows them to practice what they have learned. During this time, Mrs. Garcia guides her students through the process as they:

  • Engage in each of the three PALS reading activities
  • Practice gathering and putting away their materials
  • As with any classroom transition, teachers will wish to minimize the amount of time that their students are not engaged in academic activity. Teachers who pair students for at least several weeks may want to use one of the methods below for moving students to their assigned partner.

    1. 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.
    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. Provide opportunities for independent practice

When students have become more familiar with each of the activities, Mrs. Garcia monitors their practice and provides instructional feedback. She makes certain that the students:

  • Perform the activities correctly
  • Provide appropriate corrective feedback
  • Maintain positive social interactions
  • Follow the PALS rules
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