What characteristics might the teachers at Washington Elementary look for in a reading approach?
Page 2: The Benefits of PALS
Because Washington Elementary has an academically diverse student body, the teachers are excited to discover that PALS is effective for students with learning disabilities, low-performing students without learning disabilities, average- and high-achieving readers, and English language learners (ELLs). They are also pleased to learn that PALS is an effective means of differentiating reading instruction. Unlike whole-group instruction—in which teachers have limited ability to tailor instruction to their students’ needs—peer-mediated instruction allows teachers to:
- Individualize reading material for each student pair
- Vary the instructional pace for each student pair
In other words, teachers have the ability to provide more individualized lessons to accommodate students with a wider range of instructional needs.
- Students who engaged in first-grade PALS outperformed those in the control group (i.e., in a non-PALS classroom) on phonological awareness, decoding, and word-recognition measures. This held true for students with disabilities; low-, high-, and average-achieving students; and students in middle-class and low-SES schools.
(Fuchs and Fuchs, 2005)
- Bilingual Hispanic first-grade students who participated in PALS outperformed bilingual Hispanic students in control classrooms.
(Calhoon, Al Otaiba, Greenberg, King, & Avalos, 2006)
- ELLs taking part in K-PALS performed better on measures of phonemic awareness and letter-sound recognition than did ELs who did not.
(McMaster, Kung, Han, & Cao, 2008)
Besides accommodating the needs of students of various academic abilities and actively including all students in reading activities, PALS boasts a number of additional benefits for teachers and students. Specifically, the approach:
- Is easily implemented
- Is cost-effective
- Accelerates student achievement in reading
- Encourages on-task behavior and student participation
- Allows students more opportunities to read
- Allows students to receive corrective feedback
- Is enjoyable
- Motivates students
- Promotes collaboration and positive social interaction between students
Two elementary teachers, Nichole Lawson and Stephanie Johnson, describe their own experiences with the benefits of PALS, including improved reading performance for ELLs.
First-grade (and former kindergarten) teacher
Interdistrict Downtown School
Westwood Elementary School
For Your Information
Because PALS is easy for teachers to use and improves students’ reading skills, the U.S. Department of Education Program Effectiveness Panel has deemed it a “best practice.”