3.4

CHECK-INS AND BUDDY PAIRS

Checking-in can involve many things. It can mean checking in on how students are feeling. It can mean checking in on their understanding of a specific theme or assignment. It can mean checking in on whether or not they feel they are achieving their goals for the course. It can mean checking in on any lingering questions they may have about a particular topic. Hence, there are always opportunities available in learning processes – at the beginning, middle, or end – for checking-in with a buddy and, as a result, cultivating the community of learners.

Some concrete examples of the kinds of check-ins mentioned above would include the following:

(1) At the beginning of class, when students arrive and enter the classroom the teacher welcomes them at the door. As he/she greets them, students are asked to give the him/her a high five, a handshake, a pound/fist bump, or a nod. Each of these greetings provide a spectrum of  ways for the student to non verbally check-in with the teacher and let him/her know how they are feeling. A high five would be one end of the spectrum and would communicate that the student is excited, happy, and ready to learn vs. a head nod, on the other end of spectrum, which would communicate they the student is tired, distracted, angry – in other words, in a mental place where learning may prove to be difficult. The teacher can then use this information to be more socially aware of the dynamics in the classroom during that day and effectively interact with each student depending on their mood.

(2) Half way through a class that has been predominantly discussion or lecture focused, the facilitator asks the students to check-in with their learning buddy to see if they have any questions about what was just presented. Students can then try to answer the question(s) for their partner, instead of relying on the facilitator to field all questions.

(3) At the end of the class students are asked to check-in with their learning buddy and share one take-away from that day’s class and one lingering question that they would like to explore before next class. Then, when they return for the next class, their intro check-in would involve sharing with their buddy what they learned after exploring their lingering question from the previous class.

In short, the key to check-ins is that learners do it among themselves in order to foster connections and community among themselves, have their voices become more prominent and/or recognized in the learning space, and take ownership over the direction, flow, and impact of the learning process.

The organization, Training for Change, incorporates the “Buddy System” into many of the workshops they facilitate. Click here to see an outline of how they utilize this teaching and training technique.

“Support for learning seems to increase the speed and depth of the learning, whether it comes from support groups or from ‘buddies’ (a partner for learning). Most people aren’t accustomed to intentional support, so they don’t know how to use it or are embarrassed about using it. Many people need information and a framework to get started.” (TrainingforChange.org)

Reflection Question: Training for Change’s outline for using buddy pairs involves what they refer to as, “sentence completions.” What are three sentence completions that you could visualize buddy pairs using in the educational or learning context you find yourself?

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25 thoughts on “3.4

  1. What are some things that I can take from this training are _________________________
    Did you agree with __________________________________
    If I can change one thing about today’s lesson it would have been__________________
    I need help when______________________
    I like____________
    I disliked___________________
    Can I ask you______________________
    Do you agree with_______________________

  2. My personal goal for this week of training is…
    My concerns about facilitating in the classroom this year are…
    I care about education and working with young people because…
    The first time I experienced “cultural exchange” of some kind was…

  3. “From this orientation, I need to learn…”
    “Some support I may need during this orientation is …”
    “From this orientation, I learned…”

  4. My favorite subject is……..

    One thing didn’t understand……

    One think I enjoy today lesson is……

  5. My favorite color is…

    One part of class I didn’t understand was…

    How can I make this fun for the class…

  6. One thing I think I did well today is…
    One thing that was particularly challenging to me was…
    Another time I could use this skill is when…

  7. A goal I have for myself today is…
    One thing I want to learn today is…
    A question I have about _____ is…
    I am confused about…
    One thing that is upsetting me is…
    Something I’m thinking about that might distract me from learning is…
    You can help me by…

  8. Questions for my new 9th graders ELLs in world history next year:

    My school last year was _______________________.
    One thing I’ve heard about high school is __________________.
    One thing I learned already about world history is________________________.

  9. In the context of my alt-break preparation for our trip:

    I applied to go on this trip because…
    I am hoping that…
    I am most fearful/afraid of…

  10. Richard Cambridge: Three sentence completions that I could visualize buddy pairs using in the learning contexts I find myself are:

    What I heard and understood you to say is – Can you please correct me If I did not get it?

    Are you comfortable with the questions I ask? Please let me know when I am goin go far

    Can we please examine that further if you can?

  11. When I was teaching ELL we used sentence completions all the time for different subjects in order to get them used to the language appropriate to make arguments or state opinions. I think in a school setting sentence completions should be used based around the material being presented as well as for stating feelings about processes. For example:
    One thing I didn’t understand was…
    One thing I learned was…
    One way I might improve this is…

  12. When I was in middle and high school, the literature we read always felt very separate from my own experiences. It would’ve been nice to have been asked:

    When we read this story I felt…
    If I had been in the narrator’s shoes I would have…
    If I could change the ending of this story it would be…

  13. One routine we do in class that helps me learn is…

    One routine we do in class that I feel is a waste of our time is…

    One skill I feel I am improving on is…

  14. One question that I still have is….

    One part of today that I would feel really comfortable explaining to the group is….

    One way I could see myself using this in my real-life is….

  15. For my Honors 101 mentor group:

    How can I use today’s activity in another context (class, etc.)?
    What do I want to google and find more about when I get back to my dorm room?
    What would I tell my parents in a phone conversation about today’s activity?

  16. In today’s class I was excited when we…

    One thing from today’s lesson I feel I can explain to my classmates that missed class is…

    If I were teaching today’s lesson, I would change…

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