The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.


After nearly a week of making my students work independently, I decided it was time to bring back partner work.

I started by talking to my students about my weekend with Operation Snowball, actually. You see, a big part of Snowball is learning to work in small groups and understanding how a group works effectively. I then asked the students to think about what traits they think would make for a great group. Some of the ideas they gave were working together, focusing on the tasks, working hard, having discussions, cooperating, and using quiet voices. (There were other ideas, but those were the main ones.)

After making a list of what partner work looks like, I led the class in a lesson on multiplication and then let them work with partners.

I would love to say that it was an astounding success and that every partnership was doing exactly what it was supposed to do the entire time.

But, as anyone who teaches surely knows, nothing happens the exactly right way the first time. It takes time and, more importantly, it takes practice. Lots and lots and lots of practice.

That being said, the class actually did a rather good working together. When we reviewed our expectations at the end of the day, they were able to give themselves five points for each expectation, earning all of their pebbles for the afternoon for the first time in a long while. (My students tend to be very critical of themselves, but I allow them to determine how they do on meeting expectations, which means sometimes they rate themselves lower than I would rate them!) So, even though they did well, they also identified areas of improvement, so we will continue to work on perfecting partner work.

Of course, I am going to be gone for the next two days attending the PBIS Winter Conference in O’Fallon, Illinois. So we’ll pick up briefly on Friday and then really focus on this skill set starting Monday.


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