Seeing Partnerships From Both Sides

We went to dinner last night with good friends – we had a great time. Our friends are also our colleagues and mentors. The funny thing – we all met through Twitter.  The beautiful thing about social media is being able to tap into people with similar values.  Now “your people” have become an invaluable resource; one that not only elevates thinking but day to day practice.  That made us think – does this ever translate into the classroom?

What if we let students create their own groups and partnerships? What would happen? How would the work be structured to allow this dynamic to unfold?  The truth is we just don’t know… but we intend to find out.  

The Plan:

  1. Students will self-select their topics of inquiry (Outer Space, Animals, Ecosystems, Oceanography, Weather, Natural Disasters)
  2. Set-up informational groups and supply text sets
  3. Create a board with inquiry headings with student names written on cards (choose your partner within your group)
  4. Personal reflection work – what makes a good partner for me: why we need partners; what qualities make a good partner; talking to partners; listening to partners
  5. Systematic recordings of partnership dialogue that will be analyzed by others to find evidence of strong partnership work

We know the relationship matters.   We know that choice matters.  We know that independence matters.  If engagement means doing something difficult – failing, and trying again, then it is our job to create structures within the classroom that support this in the best possible way.  A way that is authentic to real life and shows our students that we value their choice.  With whom do you do your best work?  The people who push our thinking and help us to do our best work comes from the communities we create ourselves.  Shouldn’t we try that in the classroom?

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