All teachers had experimented with random talk partners, unless there were exceptional circumstances (e.g. child with severe learning difficulties) and only threw the names back in to the pot if repeats from the last 2 weeks came up. High achievers were very supportive of lower achievers and were now interacting with new people, pleased with whoever they got. The weekly change is an advantage because they are always excited to change. The importance of talk together has been raised, it is more purposeful and lower achievers and quitter children are now more involved.
Some teachers were using ice breakers when children first meet their partner each week, such as weekend news or something they can all talk about. This ensures every child is talking from the outset.
One teacher and her TA modelled talk partners (one good, one bad) in order to get them to generate talk partner success criteria which helped them know what they should be doing.
By using lolly sticks for who answers a question, and then asking the pair for a joint answer means children are not afraid to join in and they have to be ready!
Using compliment slips at the end of the week has been replaced for this age by a handshake and saying thank you to your partner.
When co-constructing success criteria for being good talk partners one teacher experimented by getting all the children to talk at the same time. They realised that they had to talk /listen.
Fiona Large | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicola Parker | email@example.com