Creating Purposeful Classroom Partnerships

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I love when students learn from one another and I hear the buzz and hum of engaged learning conversations. When partnerships are successful, it’s amazing what learning occurs!

It’s taken me awhile to adjust, and readjust how I form learning partnerships.

I love when students learn from one another and I hear the buzz and hum of engaged learning conversations. When partnerships are successful, it's amazing what learning occurs!

In my classroom, I assign long-term partnerships in math, writing, and reading. These partners get to know each other as learners and work together to build their skills. It’s a great day when students successfully and purposefully learn from each other!

Read on as I share some tips that I’ve used to help manage long-term partnerships and make them more purposeful in my classroom.

1. Before assigning partners, have the students help you form a list of ‘partner agreements.’ My students loved working in their table groups to decide what their partnerships should look like and what the expectations should be.

I love when students learn from one another and I hear the buzz and hum of engaged learning conversations. When partnerships are successful, it's amazing what learning occurs!

2. Assign students with a partner that they don’t sit next to in class. This way, if things get heated, they are able to take a break from their partner during the rest of the school day.

3. Praise successful partnerships in front of the class. Students love to strive to be the ‘partnership of the day.’ I award one partnership with that title and share what they did that I really loved.

4. Videotape successful partnerships to show to the class. Show students real examples of successful partnerships. They love seeing themselves on screen!

5. Have students assess how successful their partnership was for the day after the lesson. I have my students give me a fist-to-five to score how successful they were with meeting the day’s objective with their partner (five being the highest).

If students give themselves a low score, I discuss it with that partner group. If the low score is reoccurring, I may rethink that partnership or go to another intervention.

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6. Don’t frustrate high students with assigning them with a low student. Some of my high students love being a teacher to students who really need the extra help, but I feel it’s not the best situation for students to be in on a daily basis.

Here’s how I assign purposeful long-term partnerships:

I list my students from highest to lowest in a subject area. For example, after a math assessment, I list students from the top score to the lowest score.

I then cut the list in half and match up both halves. This allows for a better match-up of skill level.

I love when students learn from one another and I hear the buzz and hum of engaged learning conversations. When partnerships are successful, it's amazing what learning occurs!

List students from highest to lowest.

I love when students learn from one another and I hear the buzz and hum of engaged learning conversations. When partnerships are successful, it's amazing what learning occurs!

Cut the list in half, then match up.

7. Celebrate success and keep up the positive energy! I feel like my partnerships are successful because I continue to praise and build on the success of students.

I love partnerships because I can be students’ coach rather than their leader. My students want to work well with their partners because they know I will sing their praises.

I know I’ve mentioned being positive several times, but it is really the foundation to purposeful partnerships in my classroom.

8. Have one group of three with a sub if you have an odd number. I am lucky to have an even number of students as of now, but a couple weeks ago, I had an odd number.

I made one group of three with a high student who I knew liked being a helper.

If a student was absent, it would be their job to partner-up with that student. This student loved their job and was sad to give it up when a student left, leaving us with an even number of students.

How do you manage partnerships in your classroom? I’d love to hear other tips to keep learning positive and meaningful!

This blog post was written by Elizabeth Rossmiller, creator of the blog Seconds at the Beach. Elizabeth currently teaches 2nd grade in Oregon and enjoys creating lessons that engage students in their learning of the Common Core State Standards.

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