All teachers had positive feedback about having random talk partners changing weekly. This created fairness and support for lower achievers, for which this had a huge impact. It has given quieter children confidence and skills to speak out.
Criteria were con-constructed for what makes a good talk partner so children now know what is expected of them. There are higher levels of engagement and focus.
Maths lessons had been problematic with children selecting their own task in one class. In another class, children selected a maths task and referred to the panic, learning, comfort zones as a guide. The impact was that children were confident to push themselves and could access all the activities.
Thank you slips had been used at the end of the week.
Children are giving higher quality answers, they are happier and they love Mondays when they get their new partner.
EAL children have more confidence having good language modelled continuously.
Children stated that they enjoy working with new children. Only higher achievers gave a few negative comments as they felt they were being slowed down.
All teachers had introduced random talk partners changing weekly, using named lollysticks or an online random name picker. Although one child initially refused to participate it has now become an established ritual. There is better discussion and better responses, they have quicker ideas and are more engaged and helping each other. Mixed ability is very successful, with children all supporting one another. Higher achievers support lower achievers and vice versa. Children have an opportunity to work with people they don’t normally work with. Some pairs don’t work, some pairs have surprises and there were at first some issues between girls and boys. This is a life skill so children need to get on with it!
Compliment slips were used each week and these helped the children to be nice to each other.
Three teachers told the children about the project and went through the rules of being a good talk partner, which helped in its introduction.
It is interesting to see which children can change someone’s week and turn it into a positive experience. Talk partners is good for maths thinking when paired with a higher achiever. The expectation that you can’t ask someone something is changing.
Teachers had moved from tables to rows. This has resolved social problems and united the class. They are more cooperative. One child with behaviour problems has been allowed to show another side to his personality.
Differentiated maths challenges had been used, with all three on one sheet and named so that children don’t know the level. This had made them look more carefully at the maths.
“I have used the different maths challenges linking these to the learning zone. The children get the opportunity to choose a task which challenges them.
I have found that the children produce more work and this is of higher quality than it was when we were ability grouping.
The best aspect of changing learning partners each week is that each child has the opportunity to demonstrate mastery. They also can demonstrate their mastery skills in art, handwriting etc. to many children rather than just one or two.
It has all been very positive and the relationships within the class have improved greatly”. Lee Frost Swaffham Junior School