Tag Archives: classroom setup

Working in pairs

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On Tuesday, I was sitting in my office, listening to my colleague teach her lesson in the Science Lab. Part of her teaching was to keep the students moving around and interacting with multiple peers. She did a fabulous job quickly selecting pairs of students to work together for short periods of time, before changing partners to work with others.

It got me thinking of a strategy I used a few years ago, both in Year 4 and Year 2, called Clock Partners. I heard about it at a PD that I attended, and used it in a variety of ways across all subject areas.

Simply search for ‘Clock Partners’ or ‘Clock Buddies’ in Google and scroll through the images – there’s some on Teachers Pay Teachers and other paid sites, or some for free. As a last resort you could always draw your own clock!!

The idea is for students to form partners 12 times and write their PARTNER’S name at the specified o’clock number. Ideally, having an even number of students in your class helps with this, however, when I’ve had an odd number I’ve joined in as a teacher.

The script to getting this organised would go something like this:

Teacher: Write your OWN name at the top/centre of the clock.

*wait 20 seconds for students to do this*

Teacher: Find a partner and stand with them so I can see that everybody has a partner. Write your PARTNER’S name in the 12 o’clock section.

*wait 20 seconds for students to do this*

Teacher: Find another partner of the opposite gender/same birthday month/same height (try and mix up the criteria so they’re not just picking their friends). 

*wait 20 seconds for students to do this*

Teacher: Does everybody have a partner that they have NOT had before?

*if yes, write your PARTNER’S name in the 12 o’clock section.
*if no, wait for students to re-mix before anybody writes their partner’s name. This will become increasingly important towards the last few numbers of the clock, to make sure people are mixing up enough to create new partnerships each time.

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I laminate the students’ sheets and they keep them in their desk, or book box for easy access. When we need to do partner work, I simply say ‘Find your 6 o’clock partner’ and there’s no arguments (or there SHOULDN’T be!). If their clock partner is away, I have a designated spot in the classroom for ‘lost partners’ to stand – they either buddy up with another lost partner, become the teacher’s partner, or form a trio.

For those classes that are renowned for losing things, I create a spreadsheet so I have a master copy of everybody’s partners for those students who lack organisation.

Setting up your classroom!

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As we approach the end of another school year, my mind immediately jumps to the beginning of next year and what I’m going to do differently, or keep the same…new posters or furniture arrangements, what apps we need on which iPads…

I’m sure I’m not alone.

However for the last 2 years I haven’t had a classroom to set up and I won’t have do do it for 2018 either. But it got me thinking about all the different classrooms that I rotate through and the types of things I would be focusing on as a teacher – if I was staying in the same room, or moving to a different one!

Displays:

  • Do you have a designated wall space for different subjects? Where do you display anchor charts for various subjects? Or key terminology?
    I am a big believer in visual literacy around the classroom, including word walls, a ‘maths dictionary’ wall and I’ve recently introduced a VCOP wall into one of the classrooms I teach in. In the past, I’ve also had a ‘Wall (or Window) of Fame’ for any students who are featured in our newsletter or local newspaper – I simply cut out the article and blu-tack it to the area – a great way to showcase students and make them feel important. Birthday charts are also a way to help students feel valued, as well as a way to remember and plan for any birthday cupcakes that may be brought it!
    I also like to include very clear instructions and guidelines. These posters from First Grade Glitter and Giggles were used quite often in my class, to avoid me repeating myself.
    A few other things to consider: are you going to display a visual timetable for each day, or have a classroom helper display?

Door:

  • Do you have photos or names of all students at the entrance to your class?
    I always had some sort of theme to my class, so in the past I’ve created door labels with their names and our class logo, or ones with their photo. I’ve used similar labels for their lockers or bag hooks and if using set seating, I’ve attached labels to desks.
    If your class has a name, for example the Year 2 Rainbow Fish, I always display that on the door too!

Stationary:

  • Where will your students keep their stationary and books?
    My students have often had their own pencilcases with everything inside. The problem I often found is that even though parents were asked, they didn’t get everything labelled and things went missing and suddenly I had 8 kids in my class without a pair of scissors.

    Sometimes I had pencilcases just for coloured pencils, textas and crayons and I kept the greyleads, erasers, scissors and gluesticks in a communal area for all students to access. I found this worked really well, as students were required to work together to keep all the resources clean and tidy for the whole class to use. Depending on the grade level, I’ve also had tubs on tables with coloured pencils, textas and crayons too, so there were no pencilcases in my classroom at all.

    I created book covers for each of my different subjects (usually an A4 size) and on the first few days of school, we spent a few minutes here or there colouring them in, so that students could personalise them. If students wanted their books covered in patterned contact, I simply attached it to the front of their book using a piece of clear contact. Unfortunately the ones I used to make were made using Microsoft Publisher before I used a Macbook, so here are some other ideas I found.

Notes from home:

  • Where will you collect permission notes, or late slips?
    I used to just have a pile of notes that I’d collect and then potentially lose them. I made myself a little mail box, so instead of giving notes to me, students would just slip them inside and I’d collect them all at the end of day when I wasn’t doing 20 other things and could deliver them to the office without getting distracted!
    I found that it was also important to designate a box in the classroom for Library Book Returns, so that if students brought their books back before our allocated day, there was somewhere to keep them safe.

 

Hope you’ve found this helpful – comment with any extra ideas that you have for helping set up a classroom!
(I could go on and on, but nobody likes to read a whole essay!)