The Secret to Managing Groups and Partners

Hiya! As we start a new school year I am sure one of the things on your mind is "How will I effectively group my students for group and partner work?"

When I taught Kindergarten I would often group students focusing on keeping the talkers separate or kids who were rowdy, kids who didn't get along, or get along TOO well. I didn't focus on ability so much unless a student needed help then I would pair one of the highest, best behaved, to assist them.

...and it usually worked!

Then about 6 years ago I was moved to 4th grade Science (we were departmentalized). I was terrified! I had no idea ho to teach 4th graders! But, that summer I went to a week long Professional Development Training. It changed my life!!! Seriously! One of the most career changing PDs ever! And one of my biggest takeaways from the week was how to group students. The idea is grouping students into HIGH. HIGH MEDIUM, LOW MEDIUM, and LOW Groups for academic purposes.
And then the kicker...
pair High with High Medium or Low Medium but never Low.
And Low with Low Medium or High Medium but never High.
They explain that when you group HIGH and LOW together for academic activities it can lead to frustration on the part of both parties!

So since then I have grouped my students and labeled my tables
3 - LOW
so that they aren't aware of level! 

They are seated like this:
These Colored numbers were on there desks. I also mixed up the colors and numbers so I could call on colors or numbers and get a variety. I used them for getting materials for their tables, lining up, who started etc. They worked great! 

To introduce all of this group and partner work I used a power point on my smartboard. It outlined all of the procedures for working in groups and partners including all the different types of partners, and what to do if you didn't have a partner!
Classroom Management Procedures for Group and Partner Work-

 and the first week of school we practiced Face Partner and Shoulder partner every day, several times a day! This ensures that they understand and know without a doubt who their partner is and what to do if they don't have a partner. Get the power point HERE.

Classroom Management Working with PARTNERS Poster

 If you purchase the power point you can print off the partners slide and use it as a poster in your room as a reminder or pull up the page when you are working in partners which is what I did every time we did partner work. It's also a good way to review after any break! You can purchase the single poster HERE.

When working in groups whether tables, random groups or another variety of grouping I would always display the GROUPS pages which you can also print out! Or buy separately.

Classroom Management Working with GROUPS Poster

To purchase from my store click HERE

I hope this helps you manage Groups and Partners in your classroom! Comments or questions please feel free to leave it in the comments! I love feedback!


  1. Thanks for sharing! Where are you located in Missouri?

    1. I am in St. Joseph Missouri - about an hour north of KC.