I thought that new – and veteran – readers might find it interesting if I began sharing my best posts from over the years. You can see the entire collection here.

This post originally appeared in 2018:



As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of creating the conditions where students can teach their classmates (see The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More and my ASCD Ed Leadership article, Student Engagement: Key to Personalized Learning).

This year, with the help of my exceptional student teacher, Amber Kantner, and the support of my talented colleague, Pam Buric, we’re able to move this idea to an entirely different level.

Many teachers are familiar with the “Gradual Release of Responsibility Model” – I do, we do, you do.

That’s been modified by many, including Regie Routman (I do it, we do it, we do it, you do it).

I like Regie’s emphasis on spending more time on the “we do it” part.

I’d also like to suggest an additional final component: “You Teach It.”

Plenty of research, which you can find in the “Best” list mentioned previously, supports its effectiveness.

Here’s an example of how I described its impact a couple of weeks ago:

Here’s how we turbo-charged peer-teaching this year:

My first period begins with my student teacher Amber and I teaching a class of about twenty-five Newcomers. That’s a pretty big size for a Newcomer class, and it can get a bit hectic.

Later in the morning, my colleague Pam has the same group of students for another period of English. Twice or three times each week, Amber works with ten of the more advanced Beginners from that Newcomer class to first teach a lesson and then helps prepare them to teach it to the fifteen other other students the next morning. Amber meets with them for a few minutes at the beginning of our first period class again to review/remind them of the plan, and then they spend the rest of the period teaching it in small groups.

For example, yesterday Amber taught the advanced Beginners two simple clozes on food (which is the unit we’re studying now). This morning, they taught the rest of the class one of the clozes. In addition to teaching their small groups of two-to-three people each the vocabulary and context clues strategies they learned the previous day, the peer teachers had been challenged to work on their reading prosody by practicing saying the passages out loud at home. After reading the passages to their students, the clozes were completed, and they hand-wrote them out into paragraph form – a form that is new to many.

These teaching sessions are not only resulting in great language-learning and increased student motivation, but the hectic-ness of the class, and the previous classroom management problems, have been dramatically reduced. Amber told me today that when the peer teachers evaluate their work later in the day, it’s not unusual for them to comment that they sometimes get frustrated when “their” students don’t listen. Because of that, they say, they understand some of the challenges we have when we teach and they want to better listen to us.

It’s not a well-oiled machine by any stretch, and problems regularly crop-up, but it’s going very well. We’ve got even more exciting ways in mind to build on how it’s going.  I’ll keep you posted.

Let me know what strategies you’ve used, or are using, to have your students teach their classmates….