Teachers in this group already had talk partners embedded so had focused on the quality of their talk. Children had been asked to find one good thing and one area of improvement for themselves taken from the class success criteria display. This had encouraged quiet children to talk more and louder children to listen.
One school felt that the term learning partner was better than talk partner.
The impact had been to improve social dynamics. Some parents had complained about pairings in one class.
Teachers were using talk partners and had found that children were better speakers and listeners and could share different points of view and ideas. Working with a learning partner encouraged lower achievers to do more and higher achievers to think differently and learn through teaching. EAL pupils were helped to develop their language, writing skills were better and children’s self esteem was higher.
Most teachers used lollysticks for random choosing of talk partners. One teacher called them ‘perfect partners’. Another teacher ‘fixes’ the lolly sticks for behaviour difficulties. It was felt that changing each week is the key to its effectiveness. Children look forward to changing each week.
Success criteria had been devised, modelled initially so that all are accountable. Some teachers have encouraged children to say thank you to their partner before they change and say why they have been a good partner.
Children now get to mix and interact with children at different achievement levels. Their vocabulary has increased and lesson starts are much quicker as children get into partners immediately. Lower achievers are more likely now to get involved in their learning and higher achievers are able to explain to them. Even if two lower achievers are paired it is effective, as there is no-one overtalking.
Brighton and Hove
All teachers had talk partners set up – children now expect it!
Most change weekly, some daily but flexibility is important. Sometimes 3s work well – such as when there is a statemented child. Children are mostly positive about talk partners. One autistic child was very responsive and really developed their social skills.
Teachers aim that children should be able to work with anyone in the class
Choosing who will speak via the lollysticks was popular and kept children alert.
The randomiser ‘The Hat’ (www.harmonyhollow.com) was popular and very successful.
Success criteria of a good talk partner had been generated and used.
One teacher: ‘The impact has been that children now recognise that all children have ideas and talents. One boy never spoke in front of others and now he can’t be stopped! The others used to think he was a lower achiever and were patronising to him at first when he got a question right – they clapped. Now they are all so supportive of each other.’
Lots of work had already been done but now success criteria had been added. One school had learning partner dice to structure discussions between partners and sentence starters had been used for talk partner assessments. Children were skilled at evaluating each other as learning partners but not so good at setting targets.
One child in one class struggled with talk partners.
Lollysticks had led to no hands up and all children being prepared to answer a question. Children have thinking time.
Brighton & Hove
Suzanne Morgan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Anne Vickers | email@example.com
Paul Wilson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Parry | email@example.com