All teachers had introduced random talk partners using a randomiser and had developed class success criteria for good talk partnering. Named lollysticks were used for who answers questions after 30 seconds talk partner discussions. Children appreciate the fairness of the system, teachers enjoy it and children are more involved. The more quiet children are now meeting new people and developing life skills of being able to work with anyone. Lower achievers are more engaged and children are developing empathy and patience. All are more motivated and reluctant learners have been forced to contribute.
All teachers had found it hard to stick to random for every child. It was hard to get children to hold eye contact. Sometimes a clash of behaviour or personality can be hard to manage.
All teachers had asked children how it was going having random talk partners. All comments were positive.
All teachers had used compliment slips at the end of the week, some with a focus on what could be improved.
All teachers had changed the layout of their classrooms to rows which most classes said they preferred.
“A child in my class on the autism spectrum decided he would like to try changing talk partners and where he sits. I was really worried about this as he is very quiet and only had one person he was comfortable sitting with and talking to. But he is now confident chatting to me and others and other children have said they have enjoyed learning from him.”
Kirsty – King’s Park Primary
“When discussing whether the children liked having a randomiser to choose who answers questions or whether they preferred hands up, one child pointed out that random chance gave her a 3% chance of answering! She said ‘I think I answered about 20% of your questions before. Now I don’t get to speak as much!”
“This showed that for some high achievers they can feel that the spotlight and chance to share their successes (something that motivates them) has been reduced. I’ve had to work on other ways to ensure she still feels motivated and included as often as possible.”
Murray Cross – Kings Park Primary
North Wales Team 1
All teachers had experimented with the three chillies challenges in maths with mixed ability. Children are willing to try, knowing they can change to another challenge if too easy or too hard. Boys seem to choose the easier option. There is a supportive atmosphere with partners helping each other so children seem happier. This has helped with their self-efficacy. They are proud of themselves.
All teachers had random talk partners changing weekly. This had improved behaviour. Children work with partners they wouldn’t usually be with so have developed new friendships and new ideas. All children have become fully involved in their learning, focused on the task and aware that they’ll be discussing and therefore thinking.
Communication skills have improved, as higher achievers in a pair take on a teacher role.
Talk partner success criteria were displayed, either the result of being modelled or children being asked to come up with the rules.
One teacher found it useful to change the partners during the week as there was some difficulty with boys being distracted.
“My class was struggling with being the most ‘successful’ learning partner that they could be.
“We had a class discussion about a time when they felt they had an issue with their learning partner and they realised that a lot of issues were similar.
We created a cartoon of an issue they had experienced and what advice they would give to overcome it. They are now focusing on giving advice to their partner about their work.
“One teacher said the classroom is a little noisier but that children were more tolerant of each other. There was less cliquey behaviour at playtimes.
“Four teachers kept one children with mental health issues in the same seat with everyone else choosing. There is a positive ethos in the classroom with no complaints about the system.”
North Wales Team 2
All teachers had random talk partners, changing on Friday afternoon and giving compliment slips. The children love the system. They are more tolerant and cooperative and their talk is more valuable. They have made new friends and have greater self-efficacy. Even children teachers thought would be a disaster together were great. Children now feel that they can work with anybody. Children aspire to be like their talk partner. Low achievers get to teach higher achievers in subjects like art. All teachers said it had been a HUGE success!
Threes were used for some children who find it hard to engage.
Using Velcro, pictures of the children are displayed in their pairs.
Using lollysticks for who answers has improved children’s answers.
All teachers had introduced random talk partners. One teacher set them up on a Friday so they were ready for Monday with their new partner, whereas another teacher changes mid-week as it is less disruptive. Most change on Monday morning.
Most have random partners but some fix a couple of children. The Class Dojo can be used for random selection.
The impact has been that children are now working with children they might never have worked with. There was some face pulling at the selection, but that is being confronted.
In one class two low achievers paired can find it difficult to give each other ideas. Higher achievers benefit from being the teacher in the pairing, although that is true for many children, not just the higher achievers.
Teachers say where the pairs sit in the room, according to need.
All are giving compliment slips to their partner at the end of the week to say why they enjoyed working with them. This has helped children break down the steps for success when explaining.
The mixed ability which has resulted has built children’s self-esteem and self-efficacy, as they are now helping one another and are not labelled.
It has been useful to inform parents of the system.
“Compliment slips are given to talk partners at the end of the week. Initially, their comments reflected the whole class talk partner success criteria for being a good talk partner. For example:
‘Thanks for listening to my ideas and looking at me when I say it.’
Children are able to recognise good learning partner skills and use them.
They have now become more reflective on how they help their learning:
‘Thank you for adding more information to my ideas.’
‘Thank you for helping me in reading by trying to say the words I couldn’t say.’
Children are appreciative of how others can help their learning.”
Michelle Coleman – Peterhouse C of E Primary Academy