Pair and Re-Pair for Partner Work

One of the easiest ways to increase repetitions (reps) while maintaining student interest for paired speaking activities is not to change the task, but to change partners.  Before I explain one way I partner students, let me tell you about my partner rules.

-I assign partners. Always.
-The task goals are clear – First, I explain- Second – I demonstrated the activity with a student and me.  Third – I demonstrate again with a pair of students completing the task, everyone else watching, with me giving feedback.
-I time the activity.I have a big clock timer in the front of my room.  With students watching, I set the timer and then count them down to talk.  “clase, tres dos uno…. hablamos.…” I try to be accurate when I decide how much time to give. I want them to have enough time to complete the task, but I would rather give my students  too little than too much. I will also give more time if I see that they are still working.
– If they do finish before time is up, the students know to re-start the activity and do it again.  Everyone has to keep talking until I tell them to stop.

Paring and Repairing
I learned the importance of pairing and re-pairing student partners at an Organic World Language (OWL) bootcamp. Although I have adapted or changed many of the OWL strategies, the attention the OWL program gives to having students constantly pair and re-pair their partners was an eye opener for me.

Here one example about how I pair students.
Everyone is standing. I give the directions about how we will partner up.   I try to make sure the instructions are visible -in a TL powerpoint slide- that students can see as we go through the partner selection process.
I ask in TL – “Who has a birthday in January?” When a student raises hands I motion for them to come to me and stand first in a line. Then I ask “Who has a birthday in February?” Again, when someone raises their hand, I put them next in line. I continue the months until we are standing in a circle in the order of birthday’s from January to December. Then I assign their partner. I decide by who is standing next to who. “You two, you are partners.. look at your partner and say hello. You two .. you are partners, look at your partner and say hello….etc. etc. etc…” Once I have the students in pairs, I count them down to speak… clase, tres, dos, uno….

What is your favorite pairing idea?

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