The power of collaborative learning

Talking Partners | @AldenhamSchool Prep | Sarah Galpin

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photo credit: Ron Madr on Flickr

photo credit: Ron Madr on Flickr

Talking Partners

‘Pupil talk is central to active learning. Establishing talk partners is often the first step teachers take in experimenting with formative assessment, as it is relatively straightforward to embark on and the impact can be seen immediately.’ (Shirley Clarke, 2008)

I have been thinking about the best ways I use talking partners in the classroom and came up with the following:

    • At the start of the year, I have a discussion with the children based around why it is important to talk about and share their learning with each other.
    • As a class generate the Success Criteria for what makes a good talking partner. I find it useful to model being a talking partner with my teaching assistant showing both good and bad talking partners to help the children generate the criteria.
    • Display the success criteria in the classroom.
    • Change talking partners regularly.
  • Use randomiser name selector on the computer, names in a hat, named lolly sticks to choose people to share their and their partner’s thoughts.
  • Compliment slips – Thanks for being a great talking partner. I really enjoyed learning with you because…


Many of these ideas I have gathered from attending courses by Shirley Clarke and reading her books on formative assessment.



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