Children have talk partners which change weekly, randomly chosen by lolly sticks or computer randomisers. There is visual board of photographs of the pairings for the week. To the tune of ‘In and out the dusty bluebells’ children from one class are asked to turn and face their talking partner on the carpet, with a physical necessity to sit knee to knee etc.
Children are now happy to work with anyone. Children are more confident to talk to each other and higher achievers nurture lower achievers.
Reds talk first then blue was a useful strategy to train young children to listen to each other.
Children share what they enjoyed with their partner this week or what they learnt from each other, so reflection is happening every day.
For Reception children talk partners is very positive, because it helps them settle by making friends, building new relationships and seeing they are in an environment of learning together.
Teachers had changed talk partners weekly or fortnightly. Children had a better attitude to others and quieter children are talking more. Children make better friends and behaviour is improved as their attention keeps being refocused.
One teacher has a spin wheel with two rows of children for the partners so that children don’t get the same person twice. Another has a computer randomiser sorting hat (Harmony Hollow). Some pairings are not great, but their time is limited.
In an SLD school, where children do not communicate verbally, the adults change instead.
Success criteria for talk partners had been generated and these are evaluated verbally throughout the day.
Talk partners were changed in one class half termly as the teacher found it too difficult to change them every week. Others had changed weekly but felt it should be a flexible arrangement.
One teacher has a Russian child who has 2 talk partners, making a three, which has given him great language support.
Friendships have blossomed by the weekly changes. Children don’t complain about their partner because they know it’s only for a short time.
Talk partner displays and criteria for being a good talk partner have been effective and have been taken up to the next class. Teachers have modelled what good talk partners do to generate the criteria, including aspects of listening.
Claire Hodgson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tower Hamlets, London
Stella Smith | email@example.com
Stella Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pauline Hill | email@example.com