Saturday, September 24, 2016

Partner Round Up

Howdy Partner! On Friday we did one of my favorite classroom activities... Partner Round Up! Yeehaw! This strategy is one of the best ways I know to really encourage (force) kids to work together and learn from one another. If you or your school is part of the AVID program, this is a great one to use to show how you use "Collaboration" as a WICOR strategy. This isn't just partner work, this is about learning from and with others.

The idea is simple. Each kid gets a card. Sometimes the whole class has the same type of card and, depending on the content, sometimes half the class gets one type of card and the other half gets a different type. Students pair up, solve the problem, and move on to another partner. That's it! 

Let's run through some specifics. Friday we did Partner Round Up with graphing linear equations. Half the class got a card that had a slope written on it and the other half got a card with a y-intercept on it. A slope person must meet with a y-intercept person. Together they graph the linear equation and write the equation in slope intercept form. Then, and this is the important part, they trade cards. Otherwise one student would have the same card the entire time. This way, they only technically work with the same card twice and they should be an expert at this particular slope or y-intercept after already thinking about it with their last partner. After trading cards they find a new partner.

The students I have this year are wildly entertaining. They don't lack personality, that's for sure. Usually I just have students sort of wander around until they find a partner, but this year the students suggested we make one spot of the room for "single people". When you are "single", you can go here to "mingle". Clever. It stuck. Students were much faster at partnering up and getting through as many partnerships as possible. On average, students completed about 10 partnerships in the 20-30 minutes we had for this activity. 

1. I don't teach pretty much the whole day. I facilitate. And I think that at times this can be a very powerful position to be in. The students are doing the talking, thinking, working, and at times teaching. I walk around the room monitoring behavior and answering questions when they arise. But for the most part, I just get to watch my students be mathematicians.

2. Students teach other. On Friday I heard one student say to another "When I was partners with Gavin he explained it like this and it really helped me".

3. It encourages (forces) ELL students to work and talk with many other students in the class. They get to hear lots of academic language from their peers. You can start to see how after working with a few partners, ELL students gain confidence and begin to take the lead role at the partnerships that follow.

4. Repetition is key and this activity is so fun and engaging that it sort of tricks students into doing many math problems that would normally be somewhat mundane in worksheet form.

5. Students get to move. They are up out of their seat non-stop and getting to move about the room. Even  my most hyper-active students are able to stay on task for an extended amount of time due to the constant change in movement and partners.

Here are a few ideas I have gathered for various types of contents that would work great for this activity: 

What other ideas do you have? How could you adapt your lesson to fit this strategy? Can't wait to hear your ideas! 


  1. This is awesome!! Excited to use it with my middles! Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! Would love to hear how it goes and what content you use it for!