Preparation Before You Ask for a Friend
In the eyes of educators, peer-to-peer interaction among peers creates a unique sort of classroom interaction that can effect positive change. Science experiments encourage collaboration; math problems have significant benefits when students ask each other questions. Yet it’s not all fun and games – peer-to-peer interactions are as crucial to learning as any other teaching method, and teachers are increasingly aware of how important they are.
Whether your school is just beginning its collaboration efforts or you’ve already started teaching them to students, you’ll find it key to convey your mission clearly and effectively. That’s where the peer-to-peer experience comes in.
How to Design a Classroom Built on Inquiry, Openness and Trust
Thanks to the explosion of technology, students are literally able to walk into their own classrooms and interact with each other, from examining a data graph at work, to examining an object in a materials science lab, to designing an object for a project that will be required to be judged.
Here are some elements you can work into a peer-to-peer engagement process to help build a much-needed sense of unity among students and create a powerful learning environment.
Reward good behavior
It may seem obvious, but while students study for science fairs, they need to be applauded when they pass a difficult part of the material. Likewise, it’s important to recognize teachers for their creativity and hard work – doing it by giving students a personal experience with it will make it feel more meaningful. What kind of gift do you think you’d bestow on someone who’s been excellent at a test, for example? As students and teachers alike grow closer, their understanding of one another’s work will deepen.
Introduce students to people who you think will challenge their thinking and lead them to think differently
Giving students access to their peers will inspire them to try something they didn’t think they could do before. Inspiring them is the first step toward nurturing accountability, which will lead them to be more interested in the work of their peers and to set more realistic goals.
Towards Peer Responsibility and Peer Choice
Look at the examples above as you describe how peer-to-peer activities influence students. If you’re teaching students how to choose what to make their projects about, be specific, even if it means checking everything in and making sure they’re doing things the right way. Both peers and teachers need to hear it, and they also need to be prepared to explain their reasoning.