Staff Development Strategies

Smart Pairs

Les Willett's picture

A pairing strategy. May be used to help with class management and a way to encourage peer tutoring.


As students do independent practice, teacher can walk around the room and see who is struggling and who is comfortable with the task. Teacher can tap a shoulder, give a color paper, or select half of the class while students are practicing. When ready to push the DOK for all students, teacher can ask all students who he/she selected to stand up. Each of these students walk at least 6 steps to work with a student who is still sitting. Or, can be reversed. Students who are struggling could be the walkers. By varying the way teacher selects, students don't feel stigmatized. Can also be used to separate students who do not work well together, both sit or both walk.

I use this to vary partners for think-pair-share. When groups are working well, I use the pairings for the whole period. If there are still problems with noise, focus, or pairs that aren't able to be successful together, we can reshift pairs easily and quickly.