Tips to Tame 'Em: Week 6: Partnering Students with Flexibility

Oooo am I posting this late on Tuesday or what? I blame my busy day. I went for a bike ride with my husband, laid by the pool enjoying one of the most beautiful summer days we've had yet this summer while reading Notebook Connections by Aimee Buckner on my Kindle (if you are looking to refine your sutdent's Reader's Notebook- I'm only 40% the way through, but lots of ideas that I want to try!).

Then I was off to a dress fitting to pick up my bridesmaid dress for this weekend, went to Target to get a gift for said wedding, and naturally, had to buy a new dress, shirt, and shoes while I was there, then hopped the highway to the mall to get a few other things.

I came home and finished our delicious dinner that I got from Skinny Girl's blog and it was amazing (we even made the avocado dressing). I'm now here sitting on the couch with my husband watching the last Harry Potter movie. He finished reading the whole series today (not all in one day of course) and so he wanted to watch the film so he can basically state out loud all the things that are incorrect. It makes me laugh.

That is why I'm just now posting Week 6's:

I don't know about you, but when I started this back to school series, "back to school" seemed far away still. Not anymore! The stores are full of school supplies, ads are bursting with deals, teachers are feverishly putting their rooms together- it's practically here! I've got tips for the next 4 weeks and then BAM... school's back in session!

This week's focus:

I'm all about opportunities for students to work together. Part of the struggle was finding partnerships that work. Sometimes, I need quick partners or groups of students for a task and want it to be random so that students learn to work with just about anybody and so I made:

These little babies are super versatile. Depending on how many kids I need in a group determines what end of the stick students look at. I love this because they always pay attention to the sticker end, but they don't realize I'll have them look at the colored dot end. Muhahaha. So sneaky.

 I came up with 4 different partner set ups and used different markers. Then, I knew I would forget what was what so I added a little cheat sheet right onto my can here so that I would remember:
 If I want partnerships (2), I tell them to look at the numbers, If I want groups of 3 I tell them to go by the shapes. You get the idea.

This year, I want to try to also have a system in place where students have some control. They at least think they have control, but I still hold more control, but again, they don't know that. Muhahaha.

There were a few things I've seen on Pinterest and other teachers blogs. One idea that I'll be using is from Angie over at Fall into First. I snagged her Hive Helpers freebie from her Facebook page after becoming a fan. Students can go around and fill in different hive numbers. Read more about it here.

I don't think it is a freebie any longer, unfortunately, but there are other ideas you can create in your room that serve this same purpose. Another one that I thought was adorable was this "Phone-a-Friend" from Miss Nannini . Students put partners on "speed dial." How fun! And it's a freebie in her store!

Now it's your turn:

You have 2 options

1) Respond to the question in the comments section
2) Grab the buttons and link up with a longer post!

No need to link up on Tuesday! You can do it any day of the week until the next Tips to Tame 'Em comes out!

Here's this week's question:

I hope to hear some of your awesome ideas!



  1. I partner students by randomly picking name sticks to put students together, making a list of partners/groups ahead of time or letting students chose. It all depends on the activity and how I feel it will work best at that time.

  2. I place kids in groups for lab work by handing out table numbers at the door as they enter. I have 7 tables and the cards are numbered accordingly. The cards are mixed randomly so the kids don't know who will be in their group until they get to the table. After everyone is seated I do a visual check to make sure the table groups will work. With upper grade kids I did find I had to separate girls and boys sometimes. The group doesn't work if the kids are making eyes at one another. I mix the cards up before a class arrives and place either 3 or 4 of the same table number- depends on the class size. My students stay in the same group until a lab activity is completed. That could be only 1 week or as many as 5!

    Thanks Kelli!
    Teachers Are Terrific!

  3. That dinner looks YUMMY! I haven't watched the last two H.P. movies even though I've read the series twice. I think I might read it again this year. I want to see your outfit pictures and dress picture after this weekend!! XO
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  4. I LOVE your stick idea! I have cards with a variety of stickers that do essentially the same thing. I also have the Phone a Friend you referred to (the kids love these), and I have a set of old valentines that are cut in half. Pass the halves out and find your partner. I also use name sticks to randomly pair partners. I like a variety as well!


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