Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kindergarten Partnerships Flying High

The question: How to teach young, egocentric kindergartners how to be effective learning partners?????

The answer: Easy - Make them "Pilots" and "Co-Pilots"!!!!!

Susi and I have been working together to carry out our Pilot/Co-Pilot Project that was developed during course 4 of our CoTails Program. As it pertains to technology we wanted to use it as a way to teach children to share technology tools, specifically desktop and laptop computers, when working together on a cooperative project. Our bigger goal was to create a partnership model that could be used across the curriculum. In this post I'm going to explain how we introduced the concept, what I have done with it so far, and the impact that it has had on my class.

The idea was first introduced to students by showing them a picture similar to this one . . .

. . . and then asking students "What do you notice?" From the discussion we got the ideas that they were pilots, they were flying the plane, they were working together, they were helping each other. We led the children to the terms pilot and co-pilot and the understanding of what each of their jobs are and how important they are. For our purposes it was important that the students understand that the pilot is the one that is flying the plane and touching the controls and that the c0-pilot is there to help the pilot by talking to him but not by touching the controls and taking over. To simplify the ideas "Pilot" means "hands on" and "Co-Pilot" means "hands off".

When it was introduced in late January, during Reading Workshop, it only took a few lessons for most of the students to latch on to the pilot/co-pilot model. I could see improvement in the effectiveness of the learning partnerships in my class immediately. Students were using the words and showing respect for each other by taking turns and helping each other. I now use the terminology in my class when the students are doing any type of partner work. We have moved on from the "hands on" - "hands off" descriptions and I now give them clear and specific jobs for the pilot and the co-pilot for any given partnership activity. I have found it extremely effective in math partnerships where students are often engaged in partnership games or activities with shared materials. It really has made the job of classroom management during partnerships easier for me!

My class has not used the pilot/co-pilot model with technology at this point but there is a portion of our math program which integrates technology and is the perfect platform for sharing computers. So that is coming soon!