Kids Teaching Kids

For a long time, I’ve known that kids learn best from other kids, and I’ve tried to incorporate this into what we do in my classroom.

Last year, I taught what I thought were some great lessons about the difference between needs and wants.  At the end of the unit, I asked the students to use a Common Craft-style video to show the difference between the two. They all got to work and took turns video-taping each other.

When I reviewed the videos, it was clear to me that despite my brilliant teaching, three of my students obviously did not yet understand the concept. Instead of re-teaching the needs and wants unit, I instead chose to show these three students some of the completed videos from the students who HAD understood the concept.

It was like the lights came on.

In no time, those three students were able to create a new video that showed me that they, too, understood what the difference was between the two ideas.  Just by seeing and hearing their peers explain it.

Teaching in Flu Season

Last week flu season hit my classroom in a big way. That, combined with extreme windchills  of -43C  (-45F) meant very few children at school.  One day I had only eight students in the morning and sent two of those home ill through the day. Starting anything new seemed ridiculous, so among other things, we spent some time reviewing silent e at the end of a word.

I asked those students who were present to be the teachers for those who couldn’t be there. Each of my students made a video (again using a Common Craft style—it works SO well for young children) to show how a silent e changes a word.

The students were all motivated by the idea of being the instructors.  They worked hard on their “props” and even harder to get their images in the right place for the video. (We finally had to put strips of masking tape on the tabletop to indicate where the camera would be recording.)

Hopefully, most of my students will be back next week. Their peers are eager to let their videos help to teach. And kids can once again learn from other kids. I know it works.

10 thoughts on “Kids Teaching Kids

  1. Three things:

    1. I didn’t understand what you meant by common-craft style so I was confused but I get it now after watching your wants and needs video, and your magic e videos. It didn’t hurt that I checked out the link you provided for samples of common craft style videos. I had no idea that is what that style of filming is called.

    2. When I don’t think I’ve reached a student but I know I’ve reached other students I do ask them to try to explain it to their classmate. Sometimes it’s successful other times it’s not but in both cases I will never under estimate the power that comes from learning from a peer. Look how much I’ve learned from you!

    3. I hope your students are feeling better tomorrow and that it has warmed up SUBSTANTIALLY outside! Brr I’m cold just thinking about how cold it’s been for you guys. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr

    Thanks for continuing to share your great learning with me (and the world).

    1. The Common Craft people invented that style of video. It has been MUCH copied because it is so brilliant.
      You are correct that peer-to-peer explanations do not always work. I don’t think we need to worry about being replaced just yet…but I also believe that it can be powerful. I’ve seen it!

  2. I love the idea of having the children create Common Craft style videos (so many learning opportunities in one activity!) and it was great to see an actual example here on your page! What type of prep did it take (e.g., explaining how to make a video, showing other Common Craft videos)?

    1. You’re right Maggie, there was a LOT of learning in that activity. To show the kids what a Common Craft movie was like, I actually just showed them one of the videos my students had made the year before. I also modeled making some pictures and words and how I would tell it on camera. We have made videos before, so using the camera was not a new thing for them.

  3. Thanks for the inspiration. I use Common Craft videos and had thought about using the style with student products. Wouldn’t have tried with such young students though Will give it a try.

    1. That is the beauty of the Common Craft model. It’s simplicity means that it works with lots of age-groups.

  4. Dear Kathy,

    I was skeptical about the thought of younger children teaching their piers, but now I know it can be done! I’m so glad that you’ve discovered a technique that encourages the kids to teach. It’s great to see that children who don’t understand the concept can be taught in a fun way by their piers. I’ll have to make sure that I use this when I become a teacher!


  5. I loved watching the video on your page, thank you so much for sharing. I love how you thought outside of the box to not only help the students who had been absent, but it also gave the few students that were present something to work on. Something other than just busy work while their peers were out. I have really enjoyed reading your blog for my EDM310 class this semester, and will be a faithful reader even after this semester!

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