Midlothian (including sec ASN)
Teachers were using Read Write Inc so children already had some experience of talk partners. Children were asked for their opinions and used the information to make whole class talk partner rules. This had a positive impact as they had ownership of the rules.
The impact was positive, with pupils having quality dialogue with their partners, understanding why and thinking about their own learning.
One teacher tried random talk partners for one week and had chaos. As the weeks passed, however, the pairings are working better. After 6 weeks, all children thought it was a good idea. Children are excited and engaged with changing partners.
ASN pupils were non- verbal so this was seen as inappropriate.
North Wales Team 1
All teachers agreed that they rarely ask the whole class a question without giving children a chance to discuss it first. This is inclusive and questions are less threatening after discussion.
Two teachers chose random talk partners but they decided who sat where which meant they kept on task.
All teachers changed the partners weekly. Friends who got paired up tended to play up but overall the impact is that improved cohesion in the classes.
One teacher said children don’t want to change after a good week and two teachers gave surveys which showed the children really enjoyed random talk partners.
High achievers take a coaching role and one teacher discussed with the class how to help others. Some children don’t finish their work if they have spent a long time coaching others.
North Wales Team 2
All teachers were using random talk partners using class dojo, a randomiser or lollipop sticks. There was enthusiasm for the change of partners. Children were accepting other children and their discussion is at a higher level.
Children are listening to their partner. Passive learners have to engage and contribute more.
In one school an icebreaker is used. When partners meet for the first time they have to find out something about their partner which they didn’t know. They are talking to children they often have never spoken to.
Compliment slips have been used in one school which has increased confidence and feeling valued.
Success criteria for talk partners are displayed although one teacher said this was so embedded the rules did not need to be displayed.
There were sometimes problems with high achievers ‘looking down’ on a low achiever when chosen to partner them. Circle time had been used to extend social skills and discuss issues.
There had been a positive impact on behaviour. One reluctant writer was really enthused by and supported by a higher achiever, which had a very positive outcome. One teacher was surprised by how a child who usually asked to sit alone wanted to work with a talk partner.
In one class discontent form a high achiever about having to do all the work led to more focus on growth mindset thinking.
All teachers had introduced random talk partners, using named lollysticks or a randomiser. Children have responded positively and like working with children who know different things. Everyone gets to make a contribution, because all have to talk when a question is asked.
Initially some children expressed unhappiness about being seated with a certain person. This teacher changed them believing it would be detrimental to their learning. There had been some discreet changing of pairs, to promote confidence and empathy.
Compliment slips were used by all for children to feedback to their partner and what made them a good partner. This has helped build social relationships.
Children’s talk improves and teachers can hear the extent of children’s vocabulary and knowledge much more during talk partner discussions.