I am passionate about never letting students chose their own partners. Set includes four different groups of two partners, one group of three partners and one group of four partners. I devote pages to this topic in my book, Teacher Dialogues, because I believe it is so important and those pages are included in the product.
I believe country partners and clock partners are not the best choice because I want my students to learn to work with everyone in the class – not just 10 partners.
Every Monday students randomly choose their partner of the week. I use it as a milling activity to get the class moving, and as an opportunity to directly teach good social-interaction skills. Therefore, I prefer not to use a random-generator website and have the names already posted on the board. I change the cards depending on the week’s vocabulary. More specific directions are below but let’s start with basics.
You will need:
Pages of labels compatible with the Avery ®8460™
Index cards (one label per card)
This set includes:
1. 1 PPT slide to put on the board to help students to communicate while finding their partner
2. Pages 21 - 24 from my book, Teacher Dialogues
3. 6 templates for labels for forty students. The topics are:
Basic Greetings (groups of 2 students)
Alphabet (groups of 2 students)
Infinitives (groups of 2 students)
Numbers (groups of 2 students)
Days of the week (groups of 3 students)
Student-to-student survival vocabulary (groups of 4)
The pictures are from my Daily Tech Guide slides that teach infinitives and survival vocabulary. They aren’t as crisp as the originals – see pictures. On my printer, they print out perfectly centered on the labels. On my husband’s printer, a tad of the black circle was cut off. If you need everything to be perfect, you might want to make your own. I wouldn’t want this to impact the rating of the usefulness of this product. If you are less of a perfectionist and don’t want to spend the time gathering the pictures, shrinking them, and agonizing over them, then try mine. Also, don’t worry if when printing it tells you it will print outside the margins, it really doesn’t, at least on mine.
Directions for Pairing Cards
I set the stage the first week about how to do it , why this is so important, and that my intense, over-the-top reaction to students swapping cards to self-determine their partner will be excessive and unpleasant. I warn them up front that it won’t be personal but it will be unforgettable and involve a phone call home. I even apologize and tell them I don’t know who will be the first to do it, probably a really nice student, but usually after it happens once, it never happens the second time.
The most important thing for me is that if I have 31 students in class today, then I will have 15 sets of two cards and one ‘tiene suerte’ card – the odd person can join any group of his or her choosing. “Tiene suerte” means lucky in Spanish. This one detail changes the dynamics of the class. Rather than being the painful, partnerless person, you are the only one who has a choice!
Some weeks we are doing skits and the students are in groups of three or four. Usually it is groups of two. Let’s say it is the first week of school and my students are listening to the alphabet songs I have acquired over the year. This week’s cards will be the letters. A finds A, B finds B, C finds C. You can easily use index cards, or index cards cut in half, write the letter on each card and make the suerte card. Are you ready for the activity?
No, you are not ready yet! You must first use direct instruction to prep them for their responses. I teach them “what a pity” and “great” in the TL to support our using 90% target language, and the importance of social skills. There is a slide included with these prompts in Spanish, make sure it is open for you to use. Mine is part of my daily tech guide.
Also, make sure that what you want the partners to do is clearly on the board. (This is all part of using a daily tech guide to manage your class behavior and to use visual comprehensible input to maintain the 90% target language.)
Ok, now you are ready!
Count the number of students in class, select the cards you need, and place the cards face down on the table. Students take one but can’t look yet. When everyone has a card, I tell them to look and they start calling out their letter finding their partner. Once they connect, they hand me the cards and start working on the board’s activity.
Students easily recall who their partner of the week is, and if someone is sick then the partner pairs with the ‘lucky’ student, or if the class has an even number and there was no lucky student, the unpaired partner joins another group.
This set will get you started, and I will be adding more sets with visuals for countries and capitals, food, clothing, and other vocabulary. I keep the sets in a baggie and the variety is interesting to students.
After years of doing this, I have become accustomed to substitute teachers telling me how lucky I am that I always have the best behaved students. Lucky, really? I know it is because everyone works with everyone in my class and I explicitly teach manners and the value of working well together.
You may want to consider purchasing this activity with the song that goes with it.
Random Partner Song - ¿Quién Será?
If you have any questions, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.