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Random Student Partner for Full Participation

Making Student partner groups

Putting students into groups or partners can be a tricky thing. We all know that who a student works with makes all the difference in how successful an activity will be. 
Many times teachers (and I was/am guilty of this too) put students together based on abilities. The students know who is the “smart” one and who is not the smart one and both resent the pairing. Right away they are not happy with the partnership and this is no way to get the best work from them.

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.

student partner work

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!student partners working togetherEach 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.

  1. Let them pick any partnering to make a group of 3.
  2. 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?student partners in groups of 3 or more a teacher tip

All you need to do to create random groups of 3 or 4 is to print of more partner cards. Instead of printing 2 pages of the same card…. print 3 or 4.
I highly suggest you keep these separate from your other student partner cards and clearly label that they are for groups of 3 or 4.

teacher Tip:

You can create your own partner cards using academic topics if you have the time. 

  1. Write a math equation on one car and the answer on the other. Students have to find their match. 
  2. Put letters, numbers, sight words on each card and they find the peer with the same thing.
  3. 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. Partner Cards for matching students up.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.

Here is an image to pin for later or to share with your friends!

 Here is another tip that will help your students feel comfortable in your classroom!



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