I like to do a lot of group and partner work in my classroom. I struggled last year because I found that if I let the students choose their own group/partner, they chose the same ones every time and there were always a few students without anyone. If I chose the groups, many would complain about their group, which would embarrass the students that nobody wanted to work with. I also had complaints because the boys never wanted to work with a girl and vice versa. We would have many discussions on how that is rude and disrespectful and the importance of learning to work with everyone. I still had a hard time. Does anyone have any suggestions on pairing students up?

Last year at a workshop they talked about "clock" partners. Each student got a copy of a clock. Each time on the clock was another partner. So on Joey's clock for 2 it might say Bobby and on Bobby's clock it would say Joey on the 2. You could pre-fill out some partners for when you want to choose their partners. You could say the boys have to pick a girl or girls have to pick a boy for say 6 o'clock. You could let them choose partners for a few times. I tried it last year and it worked pretty well. I made my students make up new clock partners each quarter and I would already have some partners pre-paired on their clock sheets before I handed them out for tutoring purposes. They kept these in a certain spot in their desks and I would just say... get with your 1' oclock partner and so on. Hope that's useful. My students last year enjoyed the variety of partners.

I let my 8th graders choose their partners for a while, and then I chose them for the next project. They realized that their grades suffered when they "worked" with a friend. So when the next project came up, they actually asked me to choose for them! I also did random pairing (using matching cards) & the students that had the same cards were partners. After each project, the students completed a reflection form which included how they worked together, how the work was divided, and who they thought did more work (they were actually pretty honest & I also watched them in class). There was always a score for teamwork on the rubric, so there was never a concern with the students getting the same score when one did more of the work.

That's a good idea. I also used something similar to that and had a list of student with their pairs (about 5) and this cut down on all that complaining about who they were with and only working with their friends.

My kids sit in groupings of two, so they always know who their partner is. I told them the first day of school that I change the seating arrangement in my room about every month or two, so they would get a new partner soon IF AND ONLY IF they never complained about the partner they had right now. I told them if anyone complained, they would not change partners when I did the new seating arrangement. It worked really well---and I always tried to "reward" the kids who had been in an unfortunate pairing (and who worked really hard with that partner that they didn't like) with someone I knew they liked when I changed the seating arrangements...

I do lots of group work and group projects & they almost NEVER get to pick their groups. I think it is important for students to learn to work with everyone in a class. The PE teacher & I have the same philosophy that we go over with students. We talk about jobs and sports teams and how you have to work with people even if you don't like them. When I do seating charts sometimes I will have the students list people they most want/ least want to sit with. I really think if the whole building had all students working together more it would help cut down on the meanness & bullying. One project we did last year I had the students choose 1 of 5 songs. Then the next class I broke them into groups based on their song choices. So even if they hate the person they were with there was common ground... a song. For the most part I just preassign groups so it's not done in front of them & cuts down on people switching/ complaining b-c I move quickly.

Here's a clock buddies graphic organizer that is ready to use if anyone is interested. http://www.readingquest.org/pdf/clock_buddies.pdf Why reinvent the wheel?

To take it a step further, I saw one science teacher use the clock method to make up seating charts. I'm going to assume he had them sitting in assigned seating for the first few weeks to get to know the students, but after that students were set up with partners. He sent had tables in his classroom that seated two students per table. One side of the class had 6 tables, the other side of the class had 6 tables (12 tables all together). And each table represented an hour. Some how he worked it out that students would be sitting in a different place every day and be working with a new person every day. Students knew the pattern while I was observing them so I never really understood how he set it up, but the kids LOVED it. As for partners, I usually choose partners for activities. And I usually have it boy-girl groups, which yes they hate but I'm teaching them an important skill: you don't get to choose who you work with in life (usually) so suck it up.

I never allow students to pick their own partners. I pick sticks with names to partner them or group them. If I hear complaints, I immediatley stop and talk about how disappointing that behavior is; "we don't do that here." When I know that a pairing is bad (behavior or level) I have them sit near me and monitor their actions. I commend them for good group work (if they do anything worthy), and reward them with incentive stickers.

I have used Clock Partners and the kids love it!!!! I also do Popsicle Stick Partners where I use popsicle sticks with student numbers on them and I call them out 2-3 at a time to match up partners. I've also done in by saying "find a partner who has on the same color as you." Partners and groups are the way to go. In most career situations, that how adults work, so it not only sets up a great environment in the classroom, but also prepares the kids for the "real world."

Mix it up! I used popsicle sticks last year too. I let the students know that I got to decide if the partners I picked were compatible. You don't always want the behavior problems together if they are having a bad day, sometimes they can balance each other out. Once in awhile I let the students pick partners, but I observe very closely how the groups behave together. Afterwards we talk about how well the buddies worked together. We talk about how a best friend may not be the best help at Science, Math, etc. I also ask a general question after they have received their grades. "By a show of hands how many of you feel that your grade is as good as it should be?" A lot of my students will be honest. When I choose groups/partners, I might have them line up around the edge of the room by... abc order by first name abc order by last name tallest to shortest by birthday (month and day only) Sometimes to keep them on their toes, I will number them off, just have them partner up every two, partner from opposite ends, etc. They never knew what to expect. The clock idea is a good idea, but you don't have to worry about the students always having that in front of them.

We had 4/group. For different activities, they might work with their shoulder partner or their face partner. We made sure the pairings in the group were not all of the same academic level, so at times putting the groups together took a little while. When it came to working in pairs, we had the numbers assigned to them written on popsicle sticks. In the beg. of the year when we pulled the pairs there would be moaning and groaning, but by the end of the year they started this little clapping tradition with each pair called - it was cute.

I think partnering/grouping should depend on the activity.. I have a mix of languages as well as inclusion students, so I need to make sure my groups were planned carefully. My students sit in groups of 3-4 that are their stand-by groupings; when they need to work in partners, I'll specify if they should work with the person across from them or to the right/left. Adding to that, at the beginning of the year I put colored stars on their desks; I use this most often to distribute jobs during science labs. Sometimes I let them choose partners, especially for small projects that are more creative, but I pick partners for big grades like science fair where I want the workload (and consequences) to be equitable.

I mix it up. They can pick themselves; other times it's random; or I pick ahead of time. I take the time to describe what a partnership/group looks like. Model it!