It was felt that the term ‘learning partner’ balances the idea of talk and listening aspects of learning.
One teacher had counters and a pot for each child. Every time they contributed they put a counter in their pot. This made children realise the extent to which they had contributed or not.
Partner evaluations had been very successful, with children reflecting on their own performance and future goals.
Children enjoyed talk partners and the change of partners. All children are involved and talk is more focused.
One school uses a class randomiser on the Smartboard, others use lollysticks and all change every week.
The system forces children to interact and stay on task, girls are encouraged to talk more and it helps children become more mature about mixed gender pairings. The higher achievers can help lower achievers and they pick up on each other’s good qualities, regardless of achievement level. New friendships are forged and there is no longer a popularity dominance where one child is the one everyone wants to be friends with. The popular child now doesn’t have to keep deciding who he or she works or sits with.
It works well in numeracy where children on the same or different tasks can compare methods
Brighton and Hove
Children now feel they can talk to anyone in the class ‘even a girl’. ‘Being a talk partner helps us get on with anybody, now we are friends.’ New children are integrated quickly with talk partners and tolerance has improved.
Children in some schools have an evaluation sheet at the end of the week. Comments made by children to each other are displayed for a week then stored in children’s own envelopes.
Because children are in pairs one child can answer if the other is unsure, so there is less stress involved in answering questions.
Teachers are now listening when children talk, sometimes writing down what they hear, which they might read out to the class to help spread the ideas.
Talk partners were changed weekly and created randomly. Behaviour had improved and lower achievers are thinking for themselves more readily. Ability groups had been removed.
Success criteria had been generated and used for evaluation. Children remember them from week to week and try to improve their speaking and listening, sharing their new target with their new partner each 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