Pair / Share - A Daily Language Activity

20 September 2014
Let's face it - we already try to squeeze so much into our daily classes that the prospect of adding one more thing can cause one to break out in a panic attack.  But, when I made the time to incorporate a daily Pair/Share activity into my language block, it quickly became one of the most important activities of the day.  And it's a hit with the students, too.

My daily pair/share only takes 10 minutes each day ... but the skills that are practiced during that time are incredibly valuable.

My students read independently for 15 to 20 minutes daily.  Before they begin, I post a general question or two (related to the comprehension strategies) for them to think about while they are reading.

When our independent reading time is over, the students know it is time to "partner up" for a pair share.  Most of the time my students are really good at including everyone and making sure everyone quickly gets a partner, but if I notice some are having difficulty with this part, I will intervene and assign partners.  My students will often gravitate towards the same partners for various reasons - promixity, friendship, interest in their partner's book, so if they wish, I let them keep the same partners for at least a week before I ask them to switch it up.  They can meet with their partners anywhere they feel comfortable in the classroom.

Once they have their partner they have three jobs (the PAIR part):
  1. Summarize what they read during their independent reading time.
  2. Read a page aloud to their partner.
  3. Answer the posted comprehension question.
Both partners have to complete all three jobs.  At the end of the time, usually about 7 minutes, I assemble our full group again and ask for 3 or 4 volunteers to share (the SHARE part).  When they share they:
  1. Summarize what their PARTNER read to them that day.
  2. Explain how their PARTNER answered the comprehension question.
I use the share as a quick formative assessment - putting down a level from 1-4 for Oral Communication (speaking and listening skills).  This way I get a mark for 3 or 4 students each day.  If I notice a student hasn't volunteered to share in a while, and I'm needing some marks from them, I give them a quick heads-up before they partner up to let them know I may be asking them to share today.  That way they have time to prepare for it.

And that's that.  In just 10 minutes students are introduced to new books, and are practising their social skills, oral fluency skills, summarizing skills, comprehension strategies, listening skills, and oral speaking skills ... and I get a get a quick insight into how well they understand summarizing and the comprehension strategies we are studying, and get a quick and easy assessment without having to take home any marking.  :)  That's what I call a WIN!

An added bonus:  you can use this activity across all subjects.  I frequently do pair/shares after independent writing activities, problem-solving in math (where they explain how they solved the problem to their partners) and after science or social studies readings.

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