Age 9-11: Y5/6 (4/5 Grade US) 2016 Feedback from Day 2


Teachers had tried random partners changing every Monday, having no more than 3 together.  This had broken down barriers between the children, made children more likely to contribute and enabled lower achievers to speak.  There was no ability labelling or grouping at all.

The arrangement of tables to face the front had increased pupil engagement and prepared children for secondary school.

One teacher had children formally ask children if they could learn with them.

Rules for being a good talk partner and using the growth mindset meant children were more tolerant of each other and stereotypes were breaking down.

Some teachers had made treasury tag booklets for the compliment slips feedback from their partner, which they can take home to show at the end of each week.

Talk partners had narrowed the gap between high and low achievers, although there were problems sometimes with peer assessment with very big gaps.


All teachers had introduced random learning partners and recorded the names in a book to remember who’s been with who.  This was seen as a life skill, especially for Y6 moving to secondary.  The pairings brought out some surprises, with some children being more sensible than expected.

One teacher found the Sat results were higher than expected.

Feedback slips were used by most, often giving an ‘even better if..’ suggestion and an opportunity for the partner to respond.

Perceptions of children have changed (both teachers and children) and there is a positive buzz in the classrooms on a Monday morning when new partners are drawn.

Some children love the random partners although higher achievers tend not to like it because they worry that their work might be copied and don’t want to share.

Challenging pairs led to perseverance by the teacher of changing partners.

Overall talk partners develops confidence as it is so inclusive.

Ross, California

Grades 3,4,5

One music teacher said how nice it was knowing that all the teachers had introduced random talk partners so she could capitalise on this in her lessons and make her management easier.

Third grade had desk groups set by the teacher for 2 weeks but on the carpet the lollysticks are used for random seating.  They shake hands at the start with a new partner which they like. Children fill out a slip at the end ‘One thing I appreciate’ and ‘One thing I wish’ about their partner.  They have brainstormed constructive feedback and made a list of these but still need to learn how to be a good partner.

Children love the change of partners. There is no problem about changing partners and they like being able to learn with different people in mixed ability. In one class, however, there was a lot of discontent about having to sit with certain children and this resulted in children working independently.  These students seem to want to compete with each other about who can finish first.

Middle School

All teachers had introduced random learning partners, having flexibility.  It was felt that Project based learning groups must be together longer than a week and it was felt that students don’t have the discipline to do this with weekly changes.  Weekly changes, in any case, were seen as too disruptive for seating so the teachers were going to try 2-3 weekly changes.  Random seating, however, worked well with no behaviour issues. Students liked the surprise element and the opportunity to work with students they might not have worked with before.  Some children handled new partners well, others did not.

Another teacher founds it possible to do random seating with 8th grade but not with 7th grade, who misbehaved.  Beginning Friday lessons with the change of partners was a nice way to begin.  Students could get off task during their discussions, so time needed to be spent on the quality of their interactions.  Sharing out what their partner said was more successful.

A 6th grade teacher found having random seating problematic.