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This content is taken from the Queen's University Belfast's online course, Using Peer Tutoring to Improve Student Reading. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds What’s your background in using the technique? We started using the technique of paired reading last year with our P7s and P5s. We initiated the program after the children had finished their final exams in school. And we carried the program through with the P7s and 5s for a 10-week program. How have you used peer tutoring in school? The first year we used it was with the two age groups, the P7s and 5s. And we initiated all of the downloadable resources from CCEA, and we made up the children their packs, put in their suitable reading books, paired them up according to their reading ages, and worked from the lessons that CCEA had given us to work through.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds What do you see as the academic benefits of the process? From our evidence from using it within last year and starting the program again this year, the main benefit would be communication skills. The relationship between the two children, the P7s and P5s is invaluable. They relish the program from week one to week ten. And their social skills with each other, interacting with each other week by week, that flowed into the corridors, flowed into the playgrounds. Their fluency in reading, their ability to target new words, to put that into their next session of reading, so communication and social skills were amazing. And they just grew throughout the 10-week program. What would the social benefits of peer tutoring be?

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds The social benefits would match their communication benefits. They pair off from week one, and they interact with each other very well. You can have two boys together, two girls, you can have mixed gender. And this develops through the 10 weeks of friendships, of motivation, of confidence, asking when the next session is. I’m wanting to take all of this information home to tell their parents of their new friend with their new paired reading. What advice would you give to teachers in respect of getting paired tutoring established in their classrooms. Through CCEA I am now a mentor in the paired reading program, so I am able to bring skills in to visit, to watch our program in progress.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 seconds And I’m also able to go out to schools, use the CCEA resources, use the resources from Queens, and initiate the program in other schools. They’re able then to download a room from Fronter, and they’re able to access all of the activities, all of the PowerPoints, all of their resources, and then follow that through in their own school. Do you think paired tutoring promoted social inclusion? Yes. Girls and boys, mixed gender, we have children who would be very reluctant to read at home and in school. And for this just to include them in every week of reading, and they’re looking forward to coming back to read with their new friend. We have children who maybe would have very low self-esteem issues.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds We would have children on our special needs register, but this program includes everyone at every ability. And the satisfaction that they get at the end is invaluable. Did you face any issues in terms of getting paired tutoring established in your classroom? Every year the amount of children would differ, so you need to pair them off in regards to the number in each year group. So this year we have 36 P7s and 36 P5s, which has paired off beautifully. But in some year groups, there would maybe have to be a triad of children as there would be an odd number of 5s or 7s, or there would be more boys than girls.

Skip to 3 minutes and 42 seconds There would be better readers in P7, weaker readers in P7. So you do have to have your own teacher judgment and get it established and be firm in your establishment to run the program with confidence.

What are the Academic and Social Benefits of Paired Reading?

It is clear that there are advantages through engagement with a paired reading programme.

Please watch an interview with Allen Thurston and Debbie Turtle that nicely summarises the academic and social benefits of paired reading. In this final week we will take more time to discuss the social and communication skills that arise and will look at resources that will help facilitate these benefits.

After watching the interview please consider:

If you have experience of a form of peer learning, or have used paired reading before, have you found a similar experience to Debbie?

Alternatively, for learners who have not had experience of any form of cooperative learning, are you surprised at the extent of the social and academic benefits of paired reading?

Please share any thoughts to the discussion area. Remember that you can comment on or ‘like’ other learners’ responses, and pin your favourites too.

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This video is from the free online course:

Using Peer Tutoring to Improve Student Reading

Queen's University Belfast