How to Scaffold Pair Programming



What strategies / scaffolding have teachers used to help students to pair program? Have you found anything particularly effective? Anything to avoid?


  • I haven’t been to a full CSD training.
  • Before this school year, I taught high school science and CS. So my middle school pedagogical knowledge & practice are in their early stages.
  • The students are 7th graders who only have 9 weeks of CS before switching to another exploratory. They do the first chapter of Unit 1 and then Unit 2. This 2nd quarter students are largely doing much better, but I haven’t figured out how to support students to actually pair program.
  • Part of the challenge is that several students have high absenteeism, which makes pairs difficult to sustain when different teams move at different paces.


I have my students pick their pair programming partners. Before this occurs, I give a talk about making sure to pick a partner you know you can work with and depend on to be there to help work through the lessons. This strategy works well with my students. I do not pair based on ability level on purpose. Some teachers will pair a student with some experience with a newbie. I have found that the one with experience seems to take over even with the definite roles assigned.