Students Teaching Their Peers in 1st and 5th Grade

Deirdre Smith
First-grade and fifth-grade teacher, Lakewood Elementary School, Pinellas County, Florida

When I first looked at the email to share my experience about academic teaming I took time to answer many questions in my head. Questions like, what is academic teaming? What does it actually mean to team? What did I actually do in my classroom that included academic teaming? How did I prepare for academic teaming? How did my students use academic teaming? Have I ever done academic teaming before the LSI trainings? As well as, how can I prepare better next year for academic teaming? When looking at the aspects of academic training, I realize it is just another part of teaching. I have always used academic teaming, just not to this extent.

The 2018-19 school year has been a very interesting. The fact that I have taught two grade levels in this school year has given me two different outlooks on academic teaming. It has looked very differently in both classrooms, and some of it looked exactly the same.

In my first-grade classroom I enjoyed using academic teaming during math. I did a lot of grouping the students and having them work through math problems. It was funny to watch the students who had jobs, mimic my teaching and questioning of the other students in their group. To listen to them ask questions that they have heard me ask was hilarious. I learned quickly to remind students to stay focused and to help each other, without giving each other the answers.

In the fifth-grade classroom academic teaming looked differently, because all I taught was ELA/Reading. It was even better to hear the fifth-grade students mimic my teaching and questing tactics. I was helping a student near the office one day and had to pause the lesson. When I looked around the classroom there was a student standing in the front of the classroom and continuing the lesson. All of the other students in the classroom work with him as if he was the teacher. I almost passed out when he stopped the readings and had students talking in groups.

I look forward to next year, teaching second grade and beginning my year with all these strategies that I have learned during the LSI trainings. Taking academic training to another level in my classroom. Academic teaming has really made my year easier and I enjoyed putting the work on the students.