When pair programming in class, set a timer for when students should switch roles of driver and navigator. When the timer goes off, have students stand up, switch chairs, and give each other high fives.

  • When doing pair programming you often assign students to the following roles:
    • Driver - uses the keyboard and mouse to execute all actions on the computer.
    • Navigator - directs the driver’s actions, checks for errors and typos, and plans the problem solving or debugging actions.
  • It may be difficult to always keep track of time and whether or not students are switching roles. In addition, announcing when to switch roles may be inconvenient if you are assisting students (or otherwise busy).
    • Setting a timer will help with keeping track of time and it will tell students when to switch off.
    • Having students physically switch seats will help you spot situations when you need to intervene (i.e. when a student is reluctant to start or stop driving). The high five can help reinforce the feeling of teamwork, though it’s not a part of managing the pair programming structure.
  • It may be particularly helpful to project the timer on a wall or board so that students know who should be driving or navigating at all times.
  • At first, setting the timer in one minute intervals may be helpful for developing good pair programming habits. As students become comfortable with pair programming, it may be helpful to increase time intervals (for example, to 5 minute intervals). But different environments call for different time intervals. Figure out what time intervals work for your class!
  • You can use a Scratch project, like this one, that does the timing for you. This shows students that teachers write code to solve their own real life problems!

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