Today's Whatever Wednesday Topic is:
The Teams / Partners Chart
Class: (every time I announce any form of collaborative work) "Can we pick our own partners?"
My internal dialogue: "Hell to the no! I am far to micromanaging to allow that. When have I ever allowed you to pick your own partners? Plus, you would most certainly pick the worst possible combination possible."
What I really say: "For this activity I will be assigning partners."
My kiddos are actually assigned a buddy for most academic areas. They are even assigned a place to work with that buddy. This cuts down on transition times and ensures productive teams working in workspaces that best suit them. I can easily said, "With your reading partner you will...(insert engaging, creative task here)," and they quickly grab what they need and relocate to their "reading work spot" with their "reading buddy."
There are times when I need to pair them differently and that is where the partner chart is useful.
As I've mentioned before, each of my students is assigned a # for the year. The cards on the chart are programmed with the numbers. Each student has 3 number cards (blue, purple and green). I arrange the chart so that it creates 3 different possible combinations for partner activities.
I might say, "you will be working with your 'purple partner."
Student # 6 would look at the chart and find the purple #6 and see that she is assigned to work with purple #13.
If I said, "You will be working with your blue partner" then she would find the blue # 6 and see that it is matched with student #16.
It gets better.
See those cute and colorful sea creatures? They are not just decorative. You can use any theme cutouts (or even just letters). I have 2 rows of each cutout (fish, dolphin, turtle, whale, octopus).
If I need to put kids into a group of 4 I will say, "You'll be working with your green (or purple or blue) sea creatures." In this situation our good friend #6 knows she is a whale. She sees that the other green whales are #s 11, 16 and 7.
Another little tip is to put those same cutouts onto the tables where you would like the students to work. It will eliminate the abundance of "where do we go" questions.