In my classes we do a lot of talking with different partners, often gathering information from them to use in class. Whether it is Yr1 finding out how often their classmates eat their favourite foods, or Yr4 creating and sharing their own stories, I ask my students (in a given period of time) to talk to a number of people. But…I hate being the timer. I hate having to direct my students “New partner please…”. I want to build in their capacity to meet, talk, and then ‘move on’. In the interest of building a class community also want to have them work with/talk to students they might not normally speak to. So I have been experimenting with what I call “Talk, Stand, Switch”.
Basically I set out the challenge – how many I would like them to try to talk with in the time period given (they know that there is no maximum – they keep going until time is up.)Then I tell them – when your pair is finished stand – look around the room – and get a new partner from the others that are also standing. Students move to the ‘open person’ – even if they don’t know them. They may work with someone who is weaker or stronger than them and that brings helping/circumlocution skills into play.
I used this yesterday with my Yr1’s as they spoke with each other for 22 minutes (!) in the TL discussing food preferences. Yes I had to do some guiding “Sam, Janie looks like she needs a partner!” However the majority of students moved easily to the ‘open person’. It was great – and many of them on their “How Did That Go?” rubric written response commented on how nice it was to meet new people.
It’s a simple thing – but I hope it builds the expectation in class that we work with ‘everyone’….that our class community is a safe place to risk, try and learn…