Strategies for Partner Work

Over the years, I've tried many different systems for reading partners, peer editors, and math buddies.  I have had varying degrees of success, but it seems to be getting better every year.  Today, I'd like to share a few strategies that are going well right now.

My students have assigned reading partners.  This works great for "turn and talk" discussions because each student is seated by their partner on the carpet.  (If a partner is absent, students know to make a good choice and form a group of three.)  

Partners are on the same reading level.  This helps with partner reading because they can share the same "just right" book.

During share time at the end of reading workshop, we often have discussions with our reading partners.  In each partnership, there is a partner 1 and a partner 2.  We alternate days with who gets to go first.  That way, all students have equal time to practice talking about their reading as well as to listen and respond to others.

My writing partners run much the same way as my reading partners.  It's great to have a "go to" person who understands you as a writer.  My writing partners are mixed abilities.  This allows them to learn from one another.

I have run into a problem with writing partners.  Many second graders have trouble making suggestions and peer editing in general.  To address this, I decided to try something new this year.  

Post students' strengths and goals for conferencing and peer editing

I posted several target writing skills for second graders.  After thoroughly reviewing what each one means, students wrote their name on two Post-it notes.  Students placed their name that was on the blue Post-it note under the skill that they believe to be their biggest strength.  They placed the orange Post-it note under the skill that represented their goal.  After reviewing the chart, I conferred with several students to make sure their names were put in appropriate places.

When a student has a question or would like help with a particular skill, they can look at the display and find someone who has that listed as an area of strength.  Posting goals and strengths has also been very helpful for me during writing conferences.

(See below for a closer look at the goals and signs.  I couldn't quite fit everything in the above photo.)

FREE download to post students' strengths and goals for conferencing and peer editing
(Free Download here.)

For math, our partners rotate.  After a couple of weeks of trying to assign partners, things were just not working out right.  Recently, I had students select 6 people who they felt would make good partners.  Boys were required to have at least one girl partner, and girls were required to have at least one boy partner.  Students selected their partners by completing the form below.

FREE download - Students select six people for rotating partners.
(Free download here.)

After making a few small adjustments, we came up with six sets of partners.  I put them on Google Slides so students don't have to track them on their own paper.  After the math mini-lesson, I display something like what you see below.

Rotating Math Partners

This system has worked out very well.  Students seem to like the rotating partners.  I will always announce which partner they need to sit by on the carpet for our "turn and talk" discussion.

The partner systems I have in place are by no means perfect.  However, this is the best way I have found to use partners in my classroom (so far).  I would love to hear your ideas of what is working in your classroom.  

Strategies for partners in reading, writing, and math

Thank you, and have a great week!


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