Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tips for Prepping and Organizing Partner Activities

If you were to visit my classroom, you would see lots of collaborative groups throughout the day.  I often like my students to work in pairs.  Since we do a good bit of training at the beginning of the year about how to work well with other students, most of the time partner work goes really well.
Working with a partner provides students with a chance to move away from their seats to work, which they love.  It provides them the opportunity to target talk about a specific skill, which I love.  And it seems to help the time move fairly quickly, which we all love.
Everyday my young learners work with partners during The Daily Five, during math centers, and during literacy centers.  Sometimes I like to put together partner activities we do as a whole group.   

Like anything else, setting up whole group partner activities requires some prep and organization on the front end.  But, once you put your materials together in a thoughtful way, you will always have that activity to use with future students.

Here is how I prep partner activities to use in a whole group setting...
First, I get a colorful set of markers.

I print half as many copies of the activity as I have students.  This year I have 22 students.  So, I print 11 copies of the matching activity that the students will complete.
After printing the activity cards, (and before I laminate or cut them) I mark on the back of each set with a different color of marker.

After I mark each set with a different color of markers, I laminate the pages.  
And yes, I laminate before I cut.  I do a lot of laminating and I do not have problems with the film peeling.  Cutting once saves me a ton of time.  (If you are cutting, laminating, and cutting again, you may want to experiment with your laminator to see if you can get away with laminating the whole page and cutting once.)

Cutting is the time consuming part.  Parent volunteers can be very helpful with this job, if you can get all your materials ready early enough to send them away for a few days.

After the activity cards are cut out, I sort them into stacks based on the marker color on the back.  This picture shows the fronts of the cards.

This is what the backs of the cards look like.  The reason I mark the cards with different colors is just in case some cards get left out, I know exactly which set they belong to.  

The last step in organizing the partner activity is to put each set of cards in a bag.  I use a large envelope to keep the cards together.  I also put in the printable recording sheet that goes along with the activity.
On the outside of the envelope, I write the name of the activity, specify that it is a partner set, and (if applicable) what packet the activity came from.

Like I said, prepping these partner activities does take a little time.  But, I love having these resources available to me.  Next year when we learn about the diphthongs AU and AW, I'll go to my literacy partner work tote, pull out this thick envelope of goodies and be ready to go.

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