The Wingman: Engaging Reluctant Students
Lesson Objective: Engage reluctant students in discussion
All Grades / All Subjects / Participation

Thought starters

  1. How does this strategy help students learn from each other?
  2. What can you learn from Mr. Paris about engaging all students?
  3. How could this strategy be adapted for different activities?
Having a military background, we were taught to never leave a wingman behind. This is a good engagement tool with allowing all students to participate. Thanks for the resources! I can't wait to incorporate them.
Recommended (1)
This is a very interesting strategy for cooperative learning activities. It is always challenging when students engage in group work because we know some students feel more comfortable than others contributing to the group’s discussion. This gives the reluctant student a task and makes them a part of the conversation, yet still allows them to “participate” in their own way.
Recommended (0)
I think this is a wonderful idea, and I really like the worksheet that keeps the wingman on task. I think having one student in a group be an observer and recorder of the experience not only gives that student an engaging task, but also elevates the experience for all. If students know that they are being recorded, they are more likely to think carefully before they contribute to the conversation.
Recommended (0)
I've never heard of this method before but, it seems like something that would help keep all students engaged!
Recommended (0)
I really like the “wingman” strategy because it is hard to get all students to participate in a lesson. While some students feel uncomfortable or not confident enough to share with the class, as a teacher you want to make sure they still understand the subject matter. This strategy involves those students and makes sure they are on track.
Recommended (1)


  • ECET - Strategies Florida - Sean Paris
    "The Wingman In Group Discussion"
    Program Transcript

    Sean Paris:
    Here are the rules of

    ECET - Strategies Florida - Sean Paris
    "The Wingman In Group Discussion"
    Program Transcript

    Sean Paris:
    Here are the rules of engagement. You must listen to the people who are speaking, so don't just talk over one another. Make sure you are hearing what they're saying so that you can present a valid argument back if you disagree.

    Paris (Interview):
    The wingman strategy is the best way I know of to engage the invisible student; the student that I don't hear from in class or the student that can't or won't participate.

    A wingman is someone who is going to be observing people in her group. Alright? She gets a special page and she will be working with me later on on this. She's going to be observing people in her group, and she'll be looking for how many times you cite from text, how many times that you are off topic, and she's going to be writing down examples of the types of facts you pull out of the text.

    Paris (Interview):
    The aspect of the wingman is my favorite part of this lesson. The reason I have the wingman is because there are students that are constantly left out of discussions. They're well-liked by their peers, so that's not the issue either. It's that they find themselves shutting down when it's their turn to talk. So the idea of the wingman is how do I get them to be engaged in a lesson, and feel safe, and not lose them?

    In paragraph seven it says, a seventeen or eighteen year old is considered more safer than a sixteen year old driver.

    Paris (Interview):
    With this particular lesson, the wingman was going to record input from the rest of the group, and then she had to write a reflection of her own, which brings her back into the lesson. So it keeps her in the discussion, but it lowers the risk for her, and the comfort level is eased. And the idea behind a wingman is it can be used anywhere. I just have to take the wingman sheet that I have and adjust it. So I can use it in any kind of discussion, I can use it in the classroom, and if I have a student that's causing me problems I can make that student the wingman, and now they have a responsibility. So, it works in every aspect of my classroom.

School Details

Orange Grove Middle Magnet School
3415 North 16th Street
Tampa FL 33605
Population: 580

Data Provided By:



Sean Paris
English Language Arts Arts / 6 7 8 / Teacher


Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Planning

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Engagement

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12 / ELA / Tch DIY