This is one of those, "Duh, why didn't I think of that moments!"
Thank goodness I work with brilliant people!
I have my kiddos work with "Thinking Partners" in class. A LOT!
I used to have them just "Turn and talk to someone sitting close to you". Of course then Johnny, Susi,e and Tommy don't have partners
and they have to cross the whole room to talk to each other!
So, my wonderful colleague and friend Kelley came up with a simple yet amazing idea!
Every morning as part of our "Morning Business" the kiddos choose a partner for the day. They put their colored chip next to their partners. They know that they have to speak with that person, and each person has to move their own colored chip. That way if someone is absent, they won't have a partner.
Then, they keep that partner for the entire day! For reading, writing, math, everything!
She and I do it a bit differently. In Kelley's room, she calls one table at a time based on who is working quietly! It is an incentive to work quietly so you can be the first to choose your partner!
In my room during our Reading Workshop I have some kiddos on the computers (that is the clip chart in the picture. I move the clips to indicate who is on the computer for Reading Workshop that day). If they go on the computers, they cannot choose read with a partner for the next round, so I choose their partners for them from the other kiddos on the computers for the day. Then they still have a partner for everything else during the day.
The kiddos know that if we are sitting together on the magic carpet, that they need to sit with their "Thinking Partner" for the day. They also know that choosing their own partners is a privilege, and if they don't make the best choices, then I get to make it for them next time!
I had some extra colored circle counters, so I used those to make my chips. Kelley just used laminated paper circles. Then you need a little magnetic tape on the back! Voila!
This little gem of an idea has saved me so much grief and time this year I had to share it with the world!