Finding a Partner Idea... with a FREE download!

If you have ELLs in your classroom, you understand the importance of giving them an opportunity to talk and converse with others while using academic vocabulary.  When students are allowed to formulate their own sentences using academic vocabulary based on what they have learned, they are more likely to retain that information. (By academic vocabulary, I am referring to the terms that do not usually come up in day-to-day conversation, but are vital for students for students who are working toward mastering subject area content... words like condensation, evaporation, and precipitation.) And, like the majority of ELL strategies, conversing with partners is not only beneficial for the ELLs in your classroom, but for ALL students.

As an ESL teacher who co-taught in upper elementary classrooms, you can bet that I was frequently telling students to "turn to a partner and discuss...". Think-Pair-Shares were an everyday occurrence. (Read more about Think-Pair-Shares HERE.) The one downside to this partnering idea is that students were limited to the classmates who were sitting directly beside them.

A few weeks ago, I was paging through Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner by Persida and William Himmele (which is an excellent, teacher-friendly book, by the way!) and I found an intriguing idea! This would solve the problem of students always sharing with the same partners, and I am pretty sure kids would love the idea of the business-like atmosphere!  I had never heard of this activity, but it struck me as so clever that I just had to share it on my blog, in case there are others who are looking for a new "find-a-partner" activity.

You begin by taking 5 minutes and having students fill out the following appointment page. (Click on the image to download it.)

Students simply walk around the classroom and set "appointments" with classmates. In order to do this, both students have to select a time that is open on both of their agendas, and write each other's name in the time slot. (If you have an odd number of students, one person may have to partner with you, or have that students join an existing pair to create a threesome- your choice.) Also, make it clear that students are not allowed to turn down a classmate's appointment request unless the time slot is already filled on their paper.

When everybody's agendas are filled in, voila!  You have a new pairing tool that gets students up and out of their seats and paired with different partners. Then, anytime you want students to discuss or share with a partner, you have the option of having everyone pull out their appointment sheet, find their 2:00 appointment, and share the response. I might have everyone tape it to the inside cover of a certain notebook for consistent, easy access.

If you decide to try this activity, I would love to hear how it goes!  Have a great week!

2 comments:

  1. One of my favorite books... SOOOOO many great ideas for all kids!

    Angela

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  2. I will have to check out that book! Thanks for the recommendation! :)

    -Lisa
    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

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