Age 5-7: Y1/2 (K/1 Grade US) 2009

Hexthorpe Primary School

Strategies used

Initial discussions about the use of talk partners were held in class. Pupils were encouraged to think about why they were asked to work with a partner and why they were given ‘talking time’ in a lesson.

They were asked to consider their feelings when asked to work independently, compared with when asked to work with a partner.

They agreed that talk partners meant that they didn’t have to think or work alone, they were not as worried about tasks, they felt better about the learning they were asked to do and they had someone to help them if they had to feed back to the rest of the class.

Using the outcome of this discussion, I decided that the children needed to be taught how to support each other in more specific ways in order to improve progress and attainment. This was then developed through teacher modelling, shared and guided work and the use of mini-plenaries throughout the lesson enabling partners to review their own progress.

Following this action, pupils were introduced to the ‘lolly stick’ talk partner method. Each pupil was given a lolly stick and asked to write their name on it and decorate it to make it personal. The sticks were then put into a plastic cup.

Talk partners in my classroom were initially introduced on a daily basis where at the beginning of the day different pupils selected a lolly stick without looking and revealed their partner for the day.

Initially there were some grumbles and mutterings about which partner some pupils had to work with, but as the weeks progressed, these lessened and there was a more positive response.

Pupils began to ask if ‘Talk Partners’ could be used in all lessons and if they could choose a stick. They responded enthusiastically to what they were learning and enjoyed reviewing the day with a partner using given criteria or questions.

During Record of Achievement meetings, parents were informed of the ways pupils worked together and the rationale for this was shared. They too were positive about the methods and believed that it was good for them to ‘mingle’ with their peers.

As the weeks progressed the pupils showed a marked improvement of the understanding of Learning Objectives and Success Criteria in a lesson and even began to generate their own Success Criteria using previous knowledge of expectations.

Resources used

Modelling formed an important part of the learning process and included IWB examples where the written work was full of errors. Pupils corrected these together after initial 30 minute or 1 minute discussions.

Pupil work was read and reviewed at intervals throughout the lessons as it progressed using mini-plenaries. Here, pupils were reminded of the Success Criteria. Self and peer marking was developed through explanation and demonstration on the IWB.

On other occasions, examples of good finished pieces of work were displayed and partners were asked to highlight positive aspects. Partners then compared this against their own work and together highlighted errors or altered text.

A visualiser was used in the lesson to highlight both good and bad aspects of the work as it progressed and encourage discussion/support for improvements with partners. Photocopied examples of work were also shared and partners reviewed against success criteria, highlighting areas for improvement and discussing next steps.

Impact of Talk/Learning partners

Pupil Quotes

I like talking instead of writing sometimes.

I like talk partners because I don’t feel on my own.

Talk partners help my brain to work and concentrate.

Two brains are better than one.

We talk about our work to make it get better and better.

I am a better learner because my partner and I work as a team.

My partner can help me when the teacher is busy.