Saturday 11 July 2020

Pair Check

Hello, it’s been a while! How’s everyone been holding up in these trying times? I hope we are all well and keeping safe. As for me, I’ve recently moved to a new city and taken up a new role as a 4Skills Support teacher to support the CPD needs of Japanese teachers of English (JTE). It’s been a wild ride till now but I have definitely learnt a lot. 

From here on out, I’ll try to make my posts more regular- at least once every month. Also, in a couple of blogposts, beginning from today, I would be sharing some best practices I learnt on the CELTA course and how I am using them in my current teaching. I will start with the importance of pair checking.

 Pair checking is a key part of recommended practice on the CELTA. After almost every activity, it is important to get students to check their answers with other students around them before you do feedback. Last week, I taught my first lessons of this school year (won’t be teaching so much this year) and again I was reminded how much students’ confidence get a boost when they see that they’ve got almost the same answers with their mates or that their friend also did not know know the answer to the same question! Helps them feel less stupid.

If your students are hesitant to speak up and volunteer to answer questions, especially during whole class feedback, a pair check might help. Once students cross check their answers and confirm with their classmates that all is well, they’re more likely to speak up in class with almost no fear of getting it wrong.

Also, while cross checking answers, students are able to notice some areas that need clarification and clear confusion around that area. Some may argue that students might completely erase their answers and copy their partner’s during pair check therefore rendering it ineffective.  On the contrary, this is ok because they would have learnt from their peers and peer-to-peer instruction is a great way to facilitate and deepen learning. I usually take note of students who do this and try to nominate them to answer questions when I  take feedback.

One thing to be careful of though is that once students are aware that you would always do pair check, some might do nothing and lie in wait to copy from their peers during pair check. This is an ineffective way to learn and different from actually doing the work and correcting what they might have got wrong. Ensure that you monitor during tasks to find students like this and encourage them to try. Also, try not to do it ALWAYS, so they don’t know whether it will be done or not. It’s ok to skip peer checking and feedback altogether in favour of, say, giving them the answers to read and check in order to save time. 

If you’ve never tried this, give it a try and let me know how it goes. Otherwise, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next post.

Photo credit: kiss clip on Google images

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