Pair-Shares are super important for multiple reasons. Here are fifteen reasons. Each one of them justifies the use of Pair-Shares.
(1) Every student orally answers every question.
Pair-Shares go beyond having students think of an answer. Now, all of them are actually saying the answer aloud. Think about it. Every student orally answers every question all day long.
(2) Automatic wait time is embedded.
The Pair-Share provides the wait time for all students to prepare an answer.
(3) Listening and speaking is included.
Pair-Shares are the primary method of including listening and speaking strategies in every lesson. It’s especially effective because Pair-Shares before CFU questions include extensive use of academic and content English vocabulary.
(4) Student engagement improves.
During Pair-Shares all students are engaged. There are only three whole-class engagement strategies: Pair-Shares, whiteboards, and choral reading.
(5) Students remember more.
Pair-Share is also a cognitive strategy. As students discuss information they are also facilitating remembering the information.
From John: I recently taught a demo EDI science lesson at a high school and then three teachers taught the same lesson. After school, the science teachers, the principal, the assistant superintendent, and I, met to discuss the strategies we had practiced. As we sat in a circle of student desks, the principal opened up the discussion. She said, “I talked to the students in the classes you taught today. They said that they especially liked the Pair-Shares. They told me that saying the words and describing the Postulates of the Kinetic Molecular Theory to each other helped them learn.”
(6) Increases the student-talk to teacher-talk ratio.
Consistent use of Pair-Shares adds student talk to the lesson.
(7) Students practice their answers.
During Pair-Share, students, including ELs, are practicing putting together the sentences they are going to use to respond.
(8) Language translation time.
When a beginning English speaker is strategically paired with a student who is able to translate, the Pair-Share provides the mechanism for the translations to occur. The CFU question cues the translator what to talk about.
From John: I first saw the importance of using Pair-Shares for translations during a demo EDI math lesson I taught. Four teachers were observing in the back of the room. I called on a non-volunteer who turned out to be an EL student giving her first answer in English. In a clear voice, this is exactly what she said, “Prime factorization is finding all the prime factors you multiply together to get a composite number.” The teachers’ mouths dropped open. Tears were rolling down cheeks including mine. The teachers rose in unison and gave a standing ovation from the back of the room. When the lesson was over, one of the teachers told me, “John, that’s the first response she has ever made, and you should have seen the look on the partner who had been translating during the Pair-Shares. She had the most encouraging, ‘you can do it look’ in her eyes.”
(9) Short attention spans occupied.
Teachers have reported how Pair-Shares help students with short attention spans. This is because the frequent talking with a partner breaks up the length of time students must sit quietly listening to the teacher.
(10) Provides first re-teach.
Pair-Shares provide the first re-teaching during a lesson, and the students do it for you. During Pair-Shares you ask students to explain their answers to each other and to correct any errors. When using whiteboard responses, you direct students to look for errors if they have different answers.
(11) Classroom management improves.
Having students Pair-Share improves classroom management as they actively participate in a directed whole-class activity.
(12) Instruction is more interactive and interesting for the students.
Teachers are often told to be more interactive with their students. Pair-sharing is the number one way of providing student interaction. And lessons are more interesting for students when they do something rather than sit quietly for the entire lesson.
(13) Academic socialization flourishes.
Students are interacting with each other, speaking in academic English rather than social English.
(14) Instructional aides can be utilized.
Pair-Shares provide time for paraprofessionals to help students.
From John: This past winter I was coaching math teachers in a rural high school. I kept watching the classroom aides at the back of the classroom. Suddenly, I knew what they should be doing. I now tell schools that when Pair-Shares are in place, the aides can have a more focused approach in directly assisting students. Have aides join in during Pair-Shares, cueing students, helping them prepare answers, and re-teaching when necessary. The Pair-Share provides the time for the aide to act without talking over the teacher.
(15) Reduces effective filter.
Students practice answering questions with one student first before being called upon to answer in front of whole class.