PALS is a version of class wide peer tutoring. PALS combines
proven instructional principles and practices and peer mediation
so that research-based reading and math activities are effective,
feasible, and enjoyable. Teachers identify which children require
help on specific skills and who the most appropriate children are
to help other children learn those skills. Using this information,
teachers pair students in the class, so that partners work
simultaneously and productively on different activities that
address the problems they are experiencing. Pairs are changed
regularly and all students have the opportunity to be "coaches"
and "players" over a period of time as students work on a variety
WHAT IS PALS?
PALS creates pairs in a classroom, each of which is geared to the
individual student's needs, instead of a single, teacher-directed
activity that may end up addressing the problems of only a few
children. The strategy also creates opportunities for a teacher to
circulate in the class, observe students, and provide individual
PALS is designed to complement, not replace, existing reading and
Kindergarten: 20-30 Minutes 3 times a week
First Grade: 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week
Grades 2-12: 35-40 minutes 3 times a week
HOW IT WORKS
PALS Reading is a structured, peer-mediated reading
activity appropriate for students in preschool through grade
6 and high school. All students in a class are divided into
pairs. Each member of the pair takes turns being coach
and reader and are awarded points for good reading and
coaching. As the reader reads aloud, the coach listens and
provides corrective feedback. PALS does not require
special reading material. Teachers may use library books
or short stories
and grades 2-6 PALS emphasize
decoding and reading fluency. There are four
PALS activities that promote reading fluency and
High School PALS is similar to PALS at grades 2-6
but uses more age-appropriate motivational
strategies and helping strategies
The time commitment in the classroom for implementing
PALS reading each week differs slightly depending on the
grade level and instructors have some flexibility in the
scheduling. K-Pals is done 3-4 times per week for
approximately 30 minutes per session; first grade PALS is
done 3-4 times per week for approximately 35 minutes per
session; Grades 2-6 PALS is implemented 3 times per week
for 35 minutes per session; and High School PALS is
implemented 5 times every 2 weeks for 35 minutes per
In Kindergarten PALS, children practice letter-sound
correspondence, decoding, phonological awareness, and
Math PALS has two basic coaching procedures: coaching and practice. During coaching,
students work on a sheet of problems in the skill area (e.g., adding, subtracting with
regrouping, number concepts, charts, and graphs) to which they have been assigned.
The coach uses a sheet that contains a series of questions, differing by problem type,
designed to guide the player. Coaches also use a correction procedure. Coaching
usually lasts 15-20 minutes.
During practice, every student receives a mixed-problem worksheet containing the
problem type just worked on, as well as easier types of problems. Students work
independently for about two-thirds of the class period. Students then exchange papers
and score each others' practice sheets. Practice lasts 5-10 minutes.
Students earn points for cooperating and constructing good explanations during
coaching and for doing problems correctly during practice.
PALS is an affordable program for public schools. There is a
recommend a one-day training workshop at your site.
Depending on the workshop you choose, the presenter's
fee ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 plus travel expenses. All
workshop participants need a PALS teacher's manual which
can be purchased from Vanderbilt University prior to the
training workshop. Follow-up training is also available.
PALS does not require special reading materials and
consequently enables teachers to use the reading material of
their choice. This offers teachers flexibility for incorporating PALS
into various content areas. More recently, this technique has
been implemented as a strategy for ELL students with LD.
The strategy provides direct opportunities for a teacher to
circulate in the class, observe students, and offer individual
remediation. PALS therefore allows for differentiated instruction
via having partners work simultaneously on various teacherdirected activities.
Actively involves all students in tasks they can perform
Increases student opportunity to read and practice basic math
Motivates students to do better in reading and math.
Expands instructional resources in the classroom.
Provides for positive and productive peer interaction.
Creates opportunity for lower functioning students to assume an integral
role in a valued activity.
Allows students with disabilities to spend more time in least restrictive
increases their access to the general education curriculum.
Helps teachers accommodate academic diversity.
Accelerates student achievement in reading and math.
Is affordable and easily implemented.
Is found to be an enjoyable activity by teachers and students.
BASED ON RESEARCH THAT SUPPORTS THIS PROGRAM,
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HAS IDENTIFIED THE
FOLLOWING CHARACTERISTICS AS NECESSARY FOR THE
SUCCESSFUL USE OF PAIRS:
instructional activities are planned in advance by the
teacher and based on material that has been taught
and routines for working in pairs are taught by the
teacher in advance of peer work
of pairs differ in reading ability or English proficiency
work together approximately 90 minutes per week in
reading and language practice.
Target population: Children in preschool through high school who have difficulties in reading or math
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