Partner Picking Made Easy

I have been having some "partnering issues" in my class.  The kids are just getting very comfortable with each other and settling in to their little cliques.  They always choose the same people to pair up with and I am just not very happy with it.  For one thing, the students never hear any other strategies or points of view since they are always with the same people.  Another, more heart-wrenching by product of the "I only pick my friends" mentality that is developing in class, is that the students who aren't necessarily in the in-crowd don't get picked. 

So I decided I wanted to stop this problem before it escalated into an unmanageable issue.  I had seen the "Clock Partners" before, and I thought that doing something like that would be a good solution.   However, I have 30 students.  The clock only has space for 12, and I knew if I kept it at that, there would be the same "I only pick my friends" thing going on.   I created my own simple chart with 30 spaces on it, and set the kids off to find partners.

The actual filling out and finding partners was a tad bit tricky.  I passed out one chart to each student and then explained the rules.  Everyone had to seek out everyone else to fill in a number space.  If I wanted to be partners with Kristi, we would look at our charts.  We both have #3 open.  So I write Kristi's name on my #3 slot and she writes my name on her #3 slot.  Then I go find Debbie.  We both have #27 open.  She writes my name on her chart and I write here name on my chart, all on the #27.

You can see how it worked with the two pictures below.  Gigi and Katie are #6 partners.  They both have each other's names written on the #6 slot.



















Once I explained the rules to the kids, and modeled it a few times for them, they were off.  I was really surprised how calm and collected they were while walking around the classroom.  They really did seek everyone out to partner up with. 

As the slots started to fill up, it became a bit more difficult to find people who didn't have the exact same numbers open AND who weren't already paired up with them at one point.  So I allowed double pairings.  If you look at Katie above you can see she is paired with Jeffrey twice, once at #8 and once at #15.  That is ok.  (and, if you do the math, that was going to happen anyway with 30 slots)

Today we used the charts for the first time and, I have to say, it was FANTASTIC!  The kids were all paired with different people...and I didn't have to MAKE them.  I said, "Everyone find your 10 partner." and they all did.  There was no groaning, no hesitation.  What's more, since I didn't force them pair up with anyone, they all actually worked together. 

There were a few instances of partners who were absent or someone who didn't find a match.  I called them to the rug and we sorted it out very quickly.
You can see that Siomara doesn't have a #23 match.  When I eventually call for 23 partners, we will see who else doesn't have a 23, and match them up.  Easy Peesy.



19 comments

  1. Hi Steph! I'm sorry I fallen behind in reading and commenting, I do so love your blog. I think this idea is brilliant! I will definitely be trying this in the future...I am so tired of the same partners all of the time. I hope you're having a nice week!
    Kristen

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    1. Oh my gosh! Don't even worry about it. Life gets in the way of blog hopping sometimes ;)

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  2. OMG..What a cool idea! I may be (stealing) trying this soon!

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  3. This is great Steph!!!! I love it!!!!

    Here's what I've been using http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Partner-Picking-Cards

    It's a FREEBIE and I love it!!!! The kids love it too!

    Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure
    Teaching Treasures Shop

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    1. Those are so cute! I love Michelle's ideas :)

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  4. Thanks! Will try this approach. I usually let them pick (5th grade) but noticed the same thing... cliques! I drew sticks the other day to pair them up and you would have thought I said there was no more recess ever! DRAMA!!

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  5. I do the same thing!! They think they have all the power but really I set it up the way I want it (sorta).

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  6. I never let my class pick their own partners.... I'm so mean. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

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    1. Such a meanie! ;) I actually was almost at that point with them. Something happened on Friday that just made me rethink what was going on in my class (as far as partnering/grouping went). I really had to step back and make a change....so this is it. If this doesn't work in the long run though, I will go the way you are Jill.

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  7. I love clock partners! I just started using this strategy this year and can't believe I lasted this long without it. I change partners each quarter just to spice things up!

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  8. I use a "passport". We make little foldable books from one sheet of paper. Kids volunteer countries they'd like to go on vacation. We put one on each page. Students then pick partners for each place. Next year, I'm going to have them write the date each time they visit a country that way I don't get, "We always go to France!"

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  9. I love this idea and will definitely be using it next year when I teach 5th and 6th grade science! :)

    Shannon
    http://www.6thgradescottforesmanreadingstreetresources.wordpress.com

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  10. This is very similar to clock buddies. You can google for a template. On a looong block day, we take a brain break to make our clocks. I play music and hwen the music stops everyone finds a partner to write as their 12 o clock buddy, and all the way around the clock. This was fun for 7th and 8th grade....some of them even get into dancing. I use disney pandora or justin bieber, something they like : )

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  11. Very cool idea! :) Thanks for sharing! :)

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  12. Have you ever had a student lose it? Then, what do you do?

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  13. Must try this soon. Great idea!

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