Rally Coach

This strategy supports student pairs to coach one another through problems and questions
150 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

Rally Coach provides students with an opportunity to coach their peers through problems and questions. Students are paired together: one is partner A, and one is partner B. The students solve problems or answer questions aloud in pairs. Students take turns solving one of their problems or questions aloud, so their partner coach can listen to their thinking and process. As Partner B listens, they check for accuracy, clarify any misconceptions, and "coach" Partner A as needed. The students switch roles when the problem is correct. This strategy supports student collaboration, communication, and mastery in the classroom.

Implementation Steps

60 minutes
  1. Strategically pair students (A/B).

    • It is important to consider students' abilities and personalities when creating these pairings. You do not want students to become frustrated due to too large of a skill gap when coaching one another.

    • See the "Dance Card, Compass, or Clock Partners for Student Pairing" strategy in the BetterLesson lab for more ideas of how to pair students. 

  2. Define and model for students what it means to "coach their peers."

    • Consider modeling coaching in front of the class with another student, or select two students who are engaging in Rally Coach in a strong way to model for their peers.

    • Students often simply want to give their partners the answers. Make sure students understand that coaching is not giving their peer the answer, but helping them arrive at the answer themselves. Define the expectations of coaching with students; be explicit in what coaching is, sounds like, looks like, etc. and what it does not.

      • Consider providing students with question and sentence stems to use when coaching, such as:

        • Could you explain why you did that?

        • Okay, so what do you think the next step is?

        • First you..., then you...

        • Where are you getting stuck? 

  3. Have students try out Rally Coaching. Partner A solves the first problem or answers the first question aloud. If they need support, Partner B will coach them through the problem. Once they solve the problem or answer the question, partners switch roles until they have completed all of their problems/questions.

  4. Once students have finished, have them reflect on the "coaching" and identify what they learned through the process.

    • Help students think about what they learned, what they did well, and what they need to continue working on.

Coach A/B

Coach A/B is similar to Rally Coach, but it provides students with answer keys. Each student has a different worksheet with two columns, A and B. The A column has the problems or questions  for one partner to solve, and the B column has the solutions to his or her partner's problems or questions. Students take turns solving one of their problems or questions aloud, so their partner coach can listen to their thinking and process. As Partner B listens, they check for accuracy, clarify any misconceptions, and coach Partner A as needed. The coaching partner checks the answer using his or her worksheet, and then the pair switches roles when the answer to the problem is correct.  The pair continues this process until all problems have been solved.

 

Implementation steps:

  1. Strategically pair students for the Coach A/B protocol.

    • It is important to consider students' abilities and personalities when creating these pairings. You do not want students to become frustrated due to too large of a skill gap when coaching one another.

  2. Design the Coach A/B Handouts (see example handout in the resource section below).

  3. Introduce the Coach A/B strategy to students.

  4. Define and model for students what it means to "coach their peers."

    • Often students simply want to give their peers answers. It is important that students understand that coaching is not giving their peer the answer, but helping them arrive at the answer themselves.

      • How can you support students to see how to coach rather than giving the answer? What are some activities that could promote this?

      • Define the expectations of coaching with students; be explicit in what coaching is, sounds like, looks like, etc. and what it does not.

      • Consider providing students with sentence stems, such as:

        • Could you explain?

        • First you...Then…

  5. Model the strategy. Consider modeling in front of the class with another student or select two students who are engaging with the Coach A/B protocol in a strong way.

  6. Provide students with the Coach A/B handouts. The first partner solves the first problem or answers the first question. If they need support, their partner will coach them through the problem. Once they solve the problem or answer the question, their partner should check the answer using the right-hand column on their handout. Students switch roles until they have completed all of their problems/questions.

    • In order to support students to be independent with this process, you can have student A solve the problem, have the coach check it, and then wait as a class.

    • Have student B solve their first question/problem, and then have the coach (student A) check it and then have students wait as a class.

    • Continue practicing so students explicitly understand their roles and how they switch each round. This will also enable you to circulate to listen to the coaching and provide individualized support.

  7. Reflect on the "coaching" and support students to identify what they learned through the process.

    • Help students think about what they learned, what they did well, and what they need to continue working on.

Rally Coach For Distance Learning

Veronica Freeman
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Students can provide each other with feedback and support on problems and questions both synchronously and asynchronously. Including this in distance learning supports maintaining student connections and collaboration, while also providing feedback on a students' work. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Strategically pair students.

    • Be sure that pairs of students can both access the sites or tools where they will share their work.

    • If working synchronously, students should both be able to meet at the same time. Consider having students complete a survey about the times of the day when they are most available. Pair students with similar schedules. 

    • If modifying for asynchronous or low-tech environments, ensure that students know who their partners are, and what tool they will use. Use the next step to select  how and when they are providing feedback. 

  2. Select a tool where students can see each other's work and support each other verbally or through comments. Some ideas are:

    • Synchronous Tools:

      • Shared Google Doc or slide-Student can join the document where they can see their partner's work in real time. Using Zoom or Google Voice, they can provide feedback while the student is working. 

      • Jamboard-Students create a shared Jamboard. They take turns using the board to answer the assigned question. Students can watch so they may respond while the student is working. 

      • Zoom breakout rooms or small Google meets where students can share their screen.They use the chat or audio to respond while their partner works.  

    • Lowtech option: 

      • Students call or text while working simultaneously. Students can message photos or verbalize their thinking over the phone. 

    • Asynchronous options: 

      • Google Docs- Both students have edit or suggestiong access to a document. Students can use the tagging in comment feature to share and respond with their feedback. 

      • Flipgrid- Student shares their screen to explain their work to their peer. The peer records a feedback video. 

  3. Engage and set expectations of the assignment by sharing the purpose of Rally Coach, modeling appropriate coaching and use of the tool. Provide question stems and sentence starters. 

    • Teachers can record a screencast where they share their expectations and model how to provide feedback to peers using the chosen tool. 

    • In Flipgrid,  you can record a video model at the top and include sentence stems. See video in resources.

  4. Assign problems or questions to partners. In Flipgrid, you may attach documents to the assignment. In a Google Doc or Slide, if  students need to write out their responses, students should have edit access to their own copy of the questions. Otherwise, include a PDF or link to where students can see their questions. Clarify which set of problems or questions each partner should answer. 

  5. Include reflection questions and an opportunity to provide feedback within the assignment or as separate Google form or survey. Students may also record a video in flipgrid where they share their reflection and feedback. 

Special Education Modification

Nedra Massenburg
Special Education Specialist

Use of Rally Coaching is an excellent tool for students with disabilities by not only helping them gain information and collaboration skills and develop relationships but also to help them to increase their mastery of concepts in the classroom. 

Rally Coach skills require significant executive functioning skills (including focus, organization, working memory, etc.), written skills, and/or verbal expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas, consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Teachers who use rally coaches should be mindful of student disability types and needs in addition to formative data when assigning partners; ensure that you strategically pair students to support development of mastery without increasing frustration.  

  2. For students with disabilities that affect their verbal expression, provide additional scaffolds, such as visuals, talk stems, and manipulatives to support their explanations and justifications.  See the "Accountable Talk Stems" resource in the resource section below for more information.

  1. Intervene as a teacher to ensure partners have the opportunity to process what has been said and speak at their own pace. Pace these interventions less frequently as the amount of practice and feedback in rally coaching students have.

  2. The first few rounds of teaching Rally Coach usage in a learning setting should end with specific verbal and written feedback from the teacher to the whole class on the level of success in engagement during the task.  This ensures that all students, and especially students with disabilities have specific strength and growth areas identified.  As an example, a teacher may say “I noticed during today’s rally coach portion of class several students did not ask any clarifying questions to their partners during their discussion. During our next rally coach portion of the lesson, I will be listening specifically to hear you ask each other clarifying questions.”

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

Rally Coach provides an excellent opportunity for English learners to practice their language skills with their peers. Learners are guided in listening and speaking in authentic exchanges of academic content. 

English learners are required to listen to peers and provide feedback verbally. English learners may need to read and/or write as part of rally coach activities. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Differentiate lesson materials. Ensure English learners at all levels of proficiency use scaffolded materials for work that is to be rally coached, and have a variety of ways to express learning e.g., leveled text, graphic organizers, templates, discussion frames, sentence starters, graphic representations of writing, models, audio and video content, etc. See the "WIDA Can Do Descriptors" and the "Can-Do Descriptors: A Free Tool for ESL Differentiation" resources in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Put English learners in pairs that will be most supportive. Consider social dynamics as well as language skills to ensure mutual coaching. Ensure both learners in a pair are applying rally coach to the same work product if differentiated (see above). Consider anchoring learners at lower levels of proficiency with learners who speak the same home language to allow for idea generation in the home language. See the "How should ELLs be grouped for instruction?" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Post steps. Create an anchor chart using graphic supports of the steps to be followed during rally coach. Refer to the anchor chart while modeling. 

  4. Provide talk stems or frames Create sentence starters or frames that learners can refer to when coaching their partner. Provide a word bank of target academic vocabulary from the assignment to use within frames. Consider having English learner pairs use the Coach A/B version of rally coach where the answers are provided. 

Questions to Consider

  • What are the prerequisites, such as team building, that are needed for peer coaching to be successful?

  • How can you model how to effectively coach so that students do not just give one another the answers?

  • How can this strategy be used in other content areas?

Coach Tips

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

While this strategy was originally created by a math teacher, this strategy can easily be extended to other content areas. For example, a foreign language teacher may use this strategy to work on conjugating verbs or answering questions in the Coach A/B format. This strategy may be extended to any situation that empowers students to coach one another through the content, which can ultimately increase student mastery. In doing so, it is important to set explicit norms and expectations and support students to coach, rather than just tell.

Tech Tools

Flipgrid

  • Flipgrid is a video discussion platform great for generating class discussion around topics, videos, or links posted to the class grid. Students can video record their responses to share with the teacher or class.

  • Flipgrid can support a version of Rally Coach that would involve students recording their solutions first in Flipgrid, and having their selected partner provide questioning and feedback via video as well in the grid. This for example can allow for a flipped version of the activity do-able at home.

Padlet

  • Padlet is a digital corkboard type tool that students can use to gather information or reflections. Teachers can easily access each students’ Padlet with a shared link.

  • Padlet can support Rally coach by creating a virtual space where students can record, draw or write their solution, and their assigned partner can provide feedback in a multitude of format as well

Related Lessons

  • Explore the "Leftover Squares" lesson by Geometry teacher Tom Chandler to see how he utilizes peer coaching in his classroom. 
  • Explore the "What is Power?" and "Mass vs. Weight" lessons by 10th grade Physics teacher Anna Meyer to see how she uses the rally coach strategy when students are practicing a new concept.