Pair programming is exactly what it sounds like, we pair up students and they work together during our courses to program. With the wide range of classes we offer we have many students and we have found that having them pair up not only helps them understand programming on a higher level; it also helps with social skills and helps them prepare for real world working experiences. As adults we know that we have to work with many people and sometimes it can be a bit frustrating but learning how to work together at a young age helps as our students grow and venture out into life.
Students who venture out into the Technology Industry as adults also practice Pair Programming. As we do in our classes, they work together at one workstation/computer. They rotate turns, one will be writing the code and the other will be the observer and they do this rotation quite often. Just like in class, I have my students rotate turns every 5 minutes or so. This gives the observer time to come up with ideas and allows the coder to focus strictly on the tactical end of the coding process.
Programming is fun but it can also be a bit challenging, but fun without a challenge, would be way too easy. What most parents don’t know is that with our classes programming starts as young as Kindergarten/1st grade and goes all the way through Junior High. Pairing them up when they are younger teaches them to work together and problem solve with one another before asking the teacher. The outcome of this is success, because the happiness students feel when they can problem solve without the teachers help, is joyful and rewarding for both students and the teacher.
As a mother of a kindergartner I know firsthand that at that age they need the practice of working in pairs. As a teacher I also know that older students also need the experience of working together. When I teach my Junior High students or even middle school students they each want a computer for themselves. The older they get, I feel the less social they become because of all the technology these days, so when they step into one of our classes they work together and become socially interactive. Personally, nothing makes me feel better than to see my students getting along and enjoying working together and grow as individuals in their partnerships!