Collaboration. Conversation. Presentation.
Incorporating these essential elements of the Common Core is a breeze if you follow these two simple steps.
1) Stop thinking of these as standards that should be addressed independently.
2) Start thinking of these as tools that students must utilize to achieve mastery in the content areas.
During each lesson and learning activity in the classroom, we should provide tools for students to collaborate productively, have meaningful two-way conversations (two-way being the key word), and present their thinking in a way that is clear and powerful.
One of the best ways to begin building these skills is to incorporate partner talk in each and every learning activity. Often times, teachers’ default partnering strategy is to have students talk to the person sitting closest to them. This may be quick and easy but it also limits students’ learning horizons as they are hearing from the same person every time they share. It is especially detrimental to students who are stuck in one-way conversations with an introvert or a space cadet.
Instead, we must expose students to a variety of voices and perspectives around the classroom during idea shares. The Clock Partner Pair Share Management Tool will help you spruce up your current pair share system with one that is engaging for students and easy for you.
Take a solid chunk of time (I usually spend about 30 minutes) setting up the clocks with your students.
First, distribute one clock to each student.
Discuss the importance of the Clock Partner Promise as you see fit and have students write their name on the top line.
Then, have the students fill each of their time slots with the names of 12 different classmates. This is the part that takes a bit of time at first but is well worth it in the future. I typically reserve the first three slots for strategically assigned partnerships as follows:
12:00 – Strategically Assigned Writing Partner
1:00 – Strategically Assigned Reading Partner
2:00 – Strategically Assigned Math Partner
When it comes to the rest of the clock, we have a little more fun. I have the students find partners who have the same hair color, the same teacher from last year, someone they don’t usually spend time with at recess, someone who has the same favorite color as them, etc.
Once all the slots are filled, we tuck our clocks in our desk in a place where they are easily accessible.
Anytime I want my students to share ideas or work on an activity with a partner, I simply say, “Meet with your ___o’clock partner”. Students are able to quickly refer to their clock and meet with a variety of partners without any additional coordination on my part. About half way through the year, I give them a fresh clock and we find new partners to reignite the excitement and variety.
If you give Clock Partners a try or have another fun method for boosting collaboration in your classroom, share below.