Kids teaching kids

An innovative learning and teaching method by Ellen Küttelwesch takes off in year 4 at JSS


‘I want the children to get a new feel for learning and to be able to explain what they have learned themselves,’ says Ellen Küttelwesch. The primary school teacher at Josef-Schwarz-Schule teaches students in year 4. She usually stands in front of the class and teaches the children the German language with all of its quirks. But for two weeks now, it’s been up to the children to show how the German language is taught. 

‘I made up a game,’ explains 9-year-old Lina. ‘These little paper cards have words on them. When a word is pulled out, the students have to check if it’s a noun or pronoun. If they get it right, they win a point.’

For the first time, Lina and her fellow students got to each teach a student in their parallel class. The ‘Snowie’ class prepared around 16 lesson hours of teaching materials on nouns and pronouns. They then taught the subject for five units using the teaching materials they developed themselves, most of them involving games.

At the end, the students sat a test on the subject and completed a feedback questionnaire on their student teacher. The student teachers also had to complete this test before teaching. The student teachers’ class average was an incredible 94%. ‘To my astonishment, the student children’s average was even better than it was originally. The student teachers did incredible work. For the student children, the average was 92%,’ says Küttelwesch.

The children were also incredibly motivated throughout the project. Handing over responsibility to the student teachers was, unexpectedly, encouraging for the students. ‘They saw their learning in a completely different light. They knew that they were now responsible for what a child in their parallel class learned or didn’t learn. One child said at the beginning of the project, “It would be really unfair though if I didn’t work hard, because my student can’t be better than I am. I have to teach him everything about the topic, so I have to know it exactly.” ’ The great success of this pilot project has inspired the teacher to conduct similar projects in the years to come.

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