Making Student partner groups
the student partner ah ha moment:
I remember reading a book (I can’t remember the name) about student engagement in the classroom. It talked about how if students perceive that groupings or partnerships are completely random then they are more comfortable with working with others. No longer do they need to worry that they are being partnered with so and so because they are not a very good reader or not good at math. Now they can focus more on the task.
As soon as I read this I told myself that I would not partner students up based purely on abilities again if I could help it.
Here is where Partner Cards (keep reading for FREE student partner cards) make an entrance in my teaching practice. The best part is my students LOVE them.
When it is time to partner students up (and I don’t want them to pick their partners — which you should let them do from time to time) I pull out the partner cards and watch the excitement happen!Each student gets a card and they have to find their classmate who has the matching card. This will be their partner. Now students don’t have to worry that I assigned them a partner based on their abilities.
It also saves me time from having to match students up beforehand. I call this a win-win situation!
do you have an odd number of students?
If your classroom has an odd number of students there is an easy solution. Give yourself a partner card. One of your students will be your partner for a quick moment. For that student I do 1 of 2 things.
- Let them pick any partnering to make a group of 3.
- I assign them to a specific group that I think they may work well with. This can be based on academic needs or behaviors. If this is what I am going to do, I usually give the student a choice of 2 groups to work with. This way they still have some say in it.
do you want to randomly put your students into groups of 3 or 4?
You can create your own partner cards using academic topics if you have the time.
- Write a math equation on one car and the answer on the other. Students have to find their match.
- Put letters, numbers, sight words on each card and they find the peer with the same thing.
- Write a science or social studies question on one card and the answer on the other.
A resource for you:
To get you started with student partner cards I have created a downloadable PDF with 2 sets of partner cards for you to print and use when you get back in the classroom. Each set has 30 cards in them. This should cover most class sizes. The pdf also has more tips on how to fully utilize partner cards.