Getting children interested in learning and more importantly reading is a challenge for any educator. Finding the right resources and tools to assist in this endeavor can be challenging. There is help out there to encourage and motivate early learners want to read one such resource is Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) Although originally developed for 2nd to 6th grade, it has been noted that this can be just as beneficial to learners early on as kindergarten.
This program is valuable and beneficial to teachers and students alike, because it 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, and promotes collaboration and positive social interaction between students. K-PALS sessions typically last 20–30 minutes and are conducted at least three times per week. A session consists of two types of activities: Sound Play and Sounds and Words.The sounds introduced in Sound Play activities often correspond to those that will be practiced in the Sounds and Words activities. First-grade PALS sessions typically last about 40 minutes and are conducted at least three times per week.
The sessions begin with approximately five minutes of whole-group instruction during which the teacher introduces new sounds, sight words, and vocabulary words (i. e. , rocket words) and conducts a segmenting and blending activity. Following this brief introduction, peer pairs work on two main activities: Sounds and Words and Partner Reading.Kindergarten the teacher pairs the highest-performing student with the lowest-performing one. The teacher then pairs the next highest-performing student with the next lowest-performing student, and so on until all students have been paired.
First Grade the teacher divides the rank-ordered 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 [e. g. , learning disability in reading, intellectual disability] with one without a disability). The process continues until all of the students have been paired.Teachers should plan ahead for how student absenteeism will affect their PALS sessions.
A high-performing student may be designated as a “rover” who will fill in for students who are absent. An unpaired student might join another pair to form a triad. The two higher-performing students serve as the Readers first while the lower-performing student acts as Coach. Students with learning disabilities in reading and very low-performing students should not be grouped in a triad. If the partners of two students are absent, those students can be paired for the session.
The pair uses the lower-performing student’s lesson (found in his or her folder), and the higher-performing student acts as Coach first. Imagine you are a first-grade teacher, and you are planning to implement PALS for the first time. Here are two steps you might take to promote a healthy team environment. During each session, the teacher conducts approximately five minutes of whole-group instruction to: Introduce new sounds, sight words, and rocket words, review old rocket words provide a fluent reading model by reading the story aloud lead a blending and segmenting activity using words from the lesson.When the reader completes a book, the Coach marks five points. Then the students switch roles and repeat the process.
The students read the book at least four times (i. e. , two times per student). Because students’ ability levels will vary, pairs may work on different lessons. However, it is recommended that most students work on the same lesson. PALS may not be the specific answer every teacher is looking for in motivating their students to want to read, but it is certainly a valuable resource to have in your education toolbox.This program allows students to explore the joys of reading early, and motivates them to want to read more. It encourages stronger readers to help their peers and bring them up to their level of reading.
Low interaction from the teacher, and high peer-to-peer interchange gives the early learner a stronger buy into their own education.ReferencesThe IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. (n. d. ). PALS: A reading strategy for grades K–1.
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