Teachers from an SLD school said this was very tricky with non-verbal children, so they tried work partners, using sensory activities and sharing the end result. This has made a positive impact on children’s relationships with each other.
In mainstream, there is huge excitement each week when the randomiser chooses the pairs. Children are improving their reactions to their chosen partner and now see getting a friend is a bonus. Children’s social skills and tolerances of each other have improved. Children’s talk is incredible to hear and shows evidence of powerful learning. It was felt that if talk partners ran throughout the school, more challenging children would greatly benefit.
It was useful to snowball from 2s to 4s so that children who feel they haven’t had a chance to speak get a wider audience.
Children write compliment cards to each other at the end of the week against the child generated success criteria. Peer assessment is made possible.
One teacher trialled talk partners in maths but found it difficult, with higher achievers being dragged down by lower achievers. Other teachers are using talk partners successfully in maths.
Teachers had used random talk partners, random partners changing weekly, but the teacher deciding where they sit so that children are not distracted by other partners. Children who couldn’t work together before now can and they value each other and think about what they all need to do to improve as a talk partner.
Children write thank you notes at the end of the week to their talk partner with a ‘next time… One teacher has an ice breaker; ‘choose an activity’ when children get their new partner.
One teacher has a talk partner wall lit with fairy lights showing the class generated success criteria for talk partners. Children’s language, speaking and listening has improved.
EAL children are placed in a 3 and are very soon able to hold a conversation.
Higher achievers support lower achievers and this reinforces for higher achievers what they can do.
Children sit with their talk Partners all the time and change weekly. The hat, pictures or lolly sticks were used for the random pairing. Children are always excited about changing partners.
On Fridays most teachers have an evaluation session, often with children writing something to give to their partner. It was much more difficult for children to decide what their partner’s next steps should be. At first they made very broad comments, but are now getting more specific.
The talk partner success criteria are continually being added to as teachers develop the role of the talk partner. At first teachers really needed to teach children how to be a good talk partner.
Children are now much more open to talking and much more integrated
A child (female) who throughout the FS and Year 1 had been an ‘elective mute’.
After 3 weeks of talk partners in Year 2 she turned to her partner and said ‘Well actually, I think…’ During Year 2 through being a talk partner, she has found her voice and made valuable contributions to class discussions. Seeing her grow in confidence has been fantastic!
Year 2 teacher
Weekly changes using random lolly sticks was a commonly used strategy which children like. Shy children are now able to work with others and new pairings often bring out unexpected good combinations.
One teacher worried about children having new positions on the carpet found that her worries not warranted.
Talk partners had been continued throughout lessons. Children are independent now and can find someone to talk to. Lower achievers are supported in their vocabulary. Higher achievers have to explain which cements their understanding.
Peer evaluation works well and welcoming new children into the class has had a much smoother transition because they have an immediate working partner.
Counting in 5s Y1 maths
Two talk partners were working on 5x questions that they had generated. One boy noticed that his partner had made some mistakes so pointed out that he thought she might have missed a part of the success criteria.
He then talked her through the process, which enabled her to complete the task and he also noticed a mistake of his own during the process.
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