The Power of Students Teaching Others

--Originally published at Flipped Learning

As I continue to teach this semester utilizing Flipped Learning and Instruction, I realized some of my students were trying to fly through the practice sets without checking or verifying their work and answers. Many are very knowledgeable and smart, yet their inattentiveness to details was causing them to become slightly confused when using the distributive property with polynomials. The light went on - it was time for an intervention!

Through the Flipped Learning Environment, I have been afforded 'extra' time with students during our class time. This time has become invaluable to helping them be successful. Thus, it was only natural that I try to encourage (okay, strongly require) them to work with a partner on the practice sets one particular class. Little did they know what was coming next.

While some worked quietly by themselves and collaborated very little, I knew a twist would help motivate them to collaborate on a deeper level. With about two minutes left on their 'work clock', the designated work time, I let them know that they would be presenting to the rest of the class on the practice set I gave them. I'm quite sure I've never heard them talk so much as I did in those two minutes.

As the partners came up to share their work, their reasoning, and their solutions, the impact that sharing had on them was profound. One student stopped midstream, fully admitted he made a mistake, and asked for help from classmates. Others made 'simple' math errors that classmates were quick to question in a professional manner. What I didn't expect to happen were the thank you's and offering of "oh yeah, I made the same mistake too!" 

For me, this particular evening proved to provide another set of samples of why Flipped Learning is such a valuable instructional tool and methodology. It's not often that you can build 'soft skills' into a math class, yet this intervention did just that. As I asked students to teach one another, the accountability, respect, collaboration, and valuing of others rose to levels I could not predict!


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