How to Use Partners in Your Classroom

This is an engaging cooperative learning structure where two students work together on a learning task.  Students enjoy this alternative to working alone and it will truly help them ‘flourish’ in their learning!
There are many benefits to using partners in your classroom.  According to the research by Johnson & Johnson (1989), cooperation, compared with competitive and individualist efforts, usually results in:
1)  higher achievement
2) more caring, supportive, and committed relationships
3) better social skills
There are so many opportunities to use partners throughout your day and throughout your curriculum.  Here are a few successful ways I have used partners with my students.
~ Reading ~
Choral – both partners read together
Rally Robin – partners take turns reading a sentence or a page
Echo – one partner reads, the other partner echos the same passage
~ Writing ~
Research – partners research a topic and fill out one graphic organizer
Editing- Using a checklist or rubric, partners work together to edit and revise each other’s writing
~ Math ~
Checking work: this worked really well in my classroom!  Early finishers would go to the rug area and compare their answers.  If their answers were different, they had to work together to solve the problem again to determine to correct answer.
Flash Cards: student can quiz each other using math flash cards
Fast as a Flash: This has proven to be the most effective  activity I have ever used with my students to help them master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.  Click on any of the pictures to learn more about increasing your students’  math fact fluency, and not have any papers to grade!

Partner Quiz:  Partners Quiz (PQ) is a great way to add an interactive component to almost any lesson!  Just click on the picture to see this in action.
Turn & Talk: This is perhaps the easiest way to use partners in your classroom.  Upon your signal, students (sitting next to each other) turn and discuss the topic at hand.
Research done by Johnson & Johnson (1989) found that students who had an opportunity to talk about what they were learning – every. ten. minutes retained more information than students sitting silently listening.   
Games: Games provide a great opportunity for partners to learn academic content while being engaged in a game.  For more ideas on partner games click on the picture below:
Seating:  when I arrange my students desks, I think about partnerships.  Do these students get along?  Are these two students relativity close in their academic levels?
Clock Buddies:  This is by far my students favorite method to determine partners!  Probably because they had the ‘power of choice’.  My friend Jennifer at Everything Just So has a great Freebie you can use to create clock buddies!  Just click on the picture.
Name Sticks:  If you have a set of name sticks, you can draw two out at a time to create the partnerships.
Name Magnets:  If you have a set of names on magnets – just randomly pick two names and place them on your whiteboard.
Teacher’s Choice:  I create the partnerships for some longterm learning projects.  I just want to be sure that the partnerships are well-suited to the task.
I hope I have inspired you to use (or continue to use) partners in your classroom!
How have you used partners in your classroom?

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Peggy Means

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  • nicole sanchez January 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks for linking up with us this month! What a great post about partner work in the classroom. Working with ESL students, I try to do as much collaborative work as possible so that students get extra practice speaking and using academic language. 🙂

  • Shelly Sitz January 2, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Great ideas on working with partners. My district is a big advocate of talking to partners for extra practice in speaking. We use lots of sentence frames to help our ESL students.

  • Primary Teachspiration January 2, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    I love partner work. You have some great ideas here! Thanks for sharing.

  • Lory's Page January 2, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Great partner work ideas. Thank you for your ideas Peggy!

  • Linda Nelson @ Primary Inspiration January 3, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas, Peggy! I'm a big fan of Turn and Talk for improving both listening and speaking skills!

  • Sarah Winchell January 3, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks for linking up this month. I love partner work. Thanks for adding more strategies to my "bag of tricks".

  • Fern Smith January 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Peggy! This is wonderful, every new teacher needs this post in his/her training!
    I love all that you do and all that you share!
    Happy New Year,
    Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas!
    Fern Smith's Pinterest Boards!

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    My name is Peggy Means. I am a child of God and a retired elementary teacher. I loved teaching and creating engaging resources for my students. Now, I love sharing my resources and ideas with busy teachers around the world.

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