Sorry that this blog is late. Life!
I would like to share with you a strategy for establishing Learning Partners in the classroom.
1. Make a large analog clock on a 8-1/2 by 11 sheet of paper, put the hours (no hands or minute lines). Draw a line extending into the center from each hour. At the top of the page have a space for the students to write their name.
2. Have a quick, snappy piece of music to play during this activity.
3. Hand out the sheets of paper and have them write their name at the top. Do not explain the purpose, otherwise they will only get friends to sign their clock.
4. Explain that once the music starts, they are to get up and exchange papers with 12 other people. Example, I would give my clock to Tim and he would put his name at 1:00 and I would put my name at 1:00 on his clock. Then I would find someone else and have them sign another hour and I would need to sign the same hour on their clock. If they already have someone for that hour I would need to skip them and go to someone else. I highly recommend that you model this for your students. If the directions are not clear you will end up with a huge mess. I sure hope what I've written is clear for you.
5. After a few students have finished, stop the music and have everyone sit down.
6. You will need to go over the clock and ask who does not have a partner for each hour. This is very time consuming, but the benefits are worth it. You then start pairing up the remaining students. If you have an extra student they become the substitue or you can create triads. Example: Teacher, " Who does not have a 2:00 partner?" Three students raise their hands. "Okay, Jane you put Regina down for 2:00 and Regina you put down Jane for 2:00." "Linda you will be our substitue or join a pair when we use this strategy."
7. Collect the papers and then explain to the students what the purpose of the clocks will be.
8. Make copies for yourself. (Older students have a tendency to change them or lose them.) Have them keep a copy in their notebook or someplace they can refer to them quickly. If you are a self-contained classroom, post them for quick reference.
* When you use Learning Partners, always give the directions for the activity before you assign the Learning Partner. If you say which Learning Partner it is first, the students will focus on that person and not the directions for the activity.
* Whenever you want to pair students together you should say, "Make eye contact with your 3:00 partner. Go to them. That is who you will be working with today." Making eye contact first helps them to go to that person. Otherwise, they may not get there.
* Make a note to yourself that you used the 3:00 partner so you won't use it the next time. You'll never remember on your own, trust me. It will also eliminate the students complaining about always having to work with the same person.
* You do not have to use a clock pattern for setting up partners. You can use content related designs. For example, I used geometric shapes--rhombus, trapezoid and hexagon. I would say, " make eye contact with your rhombus partner." In this way, I was teaching the shapes, as well as pairing students.
Some teachers have used U.S. states--"make eye contact with your Florida partner." Another one might be continents, or parts of a plant, water cycle, famous artist or musicians. The list is endless.
I hope you find this helpful. If you have any questions about this strategy, or any of the previous ones, just ask.
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