Providing many types of learning throughout the day is always a goal that hangs in the back of my mind. Of course I have whole group and small group learning that provide visual, auditory and kinestetic opportunities. But I also look closely at the ways I group my students. Some of my center rotations are based on reading or math level, others are random and some are even student choice. This year I have really been focusing on partner work.
Having a “go to” set of partners that I know work well together has been an amazing time management, behavior management and learning opportunity. At the beginning of the year we spent a lot of time talking about what makes a good partner, learning accountable talk phrases that help us have meaningful discussions and how to work through a problem when partners disagree. We made anchor charts , did some role playing and went through a phase with a lot of trial and error.
But, I can tell you that all the hard work was worth it. Our partner times provide meaningful learning instruction and have enriched our reading, math and writing workshops. Today I would like to share with you 3 tips for partnering your kids, a few examples of how I have used partners and some cute ideas for “naming” your partners.
When partnering your students you want to make sure that the two students will work well together and be able to learn from each other. Here are some tips to consider when partnering…
- Academic Level: I have found that when I use partnering I am practicing a concept or providing time for my students to share. For me it works best when my partners have different ability levels. For example, one student might be stronger at math, while one has great writing skills. Since we use our partners across subject areas this allows students to shine in specific areas and learn from their partners in others.
- Personality: My partners do a lot of sharing so they need to be able to smoothly communicate. Having two partners together that are both shy or both rowdy or both bossy will often lead to troubles. I really take time to look at each of my students personalities and who they are naturally drawn to in the class.
- Be Open: I think the most important thing that I have learned is to be open and flexible. No matter how much you plan, adjustments will have to be made. Some activities will go the way you planned, others will completely bomb. But stick with it, change things up if need be and learn with your kiddos!
Like I said above, I use partners during Reading, Writing and Math Workshops. Here are some of my favorite ways to use partners…
Reading to Each Other
Discussing Comprehension Questions with Read Aloud Texts
Practicing Phonics Skills with Games
Conference About Writing
Practicing Math Concepts
Exploring Math Manipulatives
Taking turns being the Math Teacher
Coming up with cute partner names is really fun too. Not only is it an easy way for kids to remember, it also provides help with instructions. For example I use the name”Peanut Butter and Jelly Partners”. I tell the kiddos whether they are the “peanut butter” or the “jelly”. This helps because I can easily say “Peanut Butters” grab your pencils and “Jellies” grab your notebooks.” Assigning specific tasks helps speed up efficiency and keeps everyone organized. I love the book Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border. I use it as a read aloud when we start talking about how partners work well together. I also keep a list on the wipe board telling what partner pairs we have and who is the peanut butter or jelly. This really helps at the beginning of the year and when you have a sub. Other cute name pairs that I have heard used with partner work are… Mac N Cheese, Milk and Cookies, Thunder and Lightning, Ben and Jerry, Chip and Dale, Woody and Buzz, or Salt and Pepper!
I hope that this gives you some great ideas on how to start or continue using learning partners in your classroom and I would love to hear about others partnering ideas!