Following six weeks of training, Mrs. Garcia’s students should be ready to independently implement PALS. As intended by its developers, Mrs. Garcia plans to incorporate PALS every other day (i.e., two to three sessions per week) for a minimum of 17 weeks. To form a consistent and predictable schedule for the students, these sessions should occur at the same time and on the same day each week. Each PALS session lasts approximately 35 minutes, allowing a few additional moments for transitions:
Partner Reading with Retell (12 minutes)
Paragraph Shrinking (10 minutes)
Prediction Relay (10 minutes)
Keep in Mind
It is important that teachers schedule PALS sessions at a time when all of their students can participate, and avoid doing so when some students might be participating in other school-related activities, such as pull-out programs or special events.
Devin Kearns encourages teachers to keep an enthusiastic attitude when implementing PALS (time: 0:24).
Devin Kearns, MA PALS trainer Vanderbilt University
How much your students like PALS is very dependent on how much you like PALS. So one thing always to remember about PALS is to keep yourself excited about it. The activities are the same every week. Yes, it’s repetitive, but remember that that gives you the opportunity to focus on students who need your extra support and gives you the opportunity to get your students motivated and focused on the motivation piece of it.
During every session, teachers should take care to spend a few moments monitoring each student pair, making certain to observe every student reading at least once per week. As the teacher moves about the classroom, he or she should pay special attention to the fluency with which the students read, as well as how effectively they are able to summarize their reading passages into good main idea statements. It’s also during this time that the teacher should award points (e.g., PALS dollars) to the students.
Karin Prentice discusses the importance of teacher monitoring (time: 0:30).
Karin Prentice Former High-school PALS research coordinator Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Teacher monitoring really is invaluable—being able to actually assess your students and really get the chance to sit down and listen to one student read. The ability to do that—and just the teachable moments and instruction when you’re walking around and you can see a child is having a problem with something—to be able to stop and work with that one student—typically in that situation, you lose the rest of your class, but here all the students are engaged, so they may not even notice that that one student is actually getting one-on-one.
For Your Information
In addition to observing students during each PALS session, the teacher can frequently assess each student’s reading progress through curriculum-based measurement (CBM). To learn more about CBM for reading, please take a look at the following IRIS Module:
A type of progress monitoring conducted on a regular basis to assess student performance throughout an entire year’s curriculum; teachers can use CBM to evaluate not only their students’ progress but also the effectiveness of their instructional methods.
Imagine that you are a teacher implementing PALS for the first time. As such, you carefully observe your students, making sure that they follow the correct procedures and cooperate well. You want to make sure that the Reader is reading fluently and answering questions correctly and that the Coach is giving appropriate feedback. As you monitor, you witness each of the scenarios presented below.
Watch each video and determine whether the students are following the correct procedures. Describe any errors you see and be sure to specify what scripted response the Coach should have used.
Reader: At the end of the tryouts, Randy sat on the bench, tired but happy. He knew he had done his best, and that was really all that mattered. The coach began to call out the names of the boys who made the team. Randy’s name was called, and he stood up with a big smile on his face. He knew John and his mom would be proud of him. Randy was proudest of all. He had done his best, and that was good enough.
Coach: “Name the who or what.”
Coach: “Good job!”
(Story text from Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies [PALS] for High School Students, by L. S. Fuchs, D. Fuchs, S. Kazdan, P. Mathes, and L. Saenz, 1997, pp. A-19a–A-19b)
Scenario A Feedback
The Reader identifies the main character as John, instead of Randy. The Coach misses the error and replies, “Good job.” The Coach should have said, “That’s not quite right. Try again.”
Transcript: Scenario B
Reader: Jason played like a first-stringer that day. He was in every respect equal if not better than the best players on the team. He ran fast, found every open hole in the line, and jumped up after every tackle as if he had never been hit. By the third quarter he had run for three touchdowns. As a grand finale—as if to remove even the slightest doubt in anyone’s mind—he scored another touchdown in the last second of the fourth quarter.
As soon as he ran off the field with his teammates, Jason received a volley of body slaps and body slams against the backdrop of thunderous applause from the crowd. Despite all the ad…adulation, Jason managed to maintain his characteristic humble, low-key manner.
Coach: “Name the who or what.”
Coach: “Tell the most important thing about the who or what.”
Reader: Jason played very well and scored four touchdowns.
Coach: “Say the main idea in ten words or less.”
Reader: Jason is a really good football player, and he scored four touchdowns.
(Story text from Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies [PALS] for High School Students, by L. S. Fuchs, D. Fuchs, S. Kazdan, P. Mathes, and L. Saenz, 1997, pp. A-31a–A-31b)
Scenario B Feedback
The Reader states the main idea using more than ten words. The Coach should have said, “Shrink it.”