Rally Coach

This strategy supports student pairs to coach one another through problems and questions
24 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.

Special Education Modification

To support students with disabilities who struggle with the content, ensure that you strategically pair students to support development without frustration. These students may need additional scaffolds, such as visuals, talk stems, and manipulatives to support their explanations and justifications.

EL Modification

To support English Learners, consider additional scaffolds, such as visuals and talk stems that will allow students to fully articulate their explanations and justifications.

Additionally, for EL students, teachers should purposefully group students with diverse backgrounds and proficiency levels in order to promote teaching and learning among peers.

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.