Clock Partners

This is a partnering strategy that I believe will be the trifecta:

  • everyone pairs with everybody else at some point
  • once practiced, it should be a seemless and easy transition to partners
  • something the students can see as fair – thus limiting complaints

In this strategy, students are given a blank clock face, and asked to “make appointments” with each other to fill up the hours, for up to twelve partners. I say “up to” as some teachers only assign even or odd numbers to make the number of partners more manageable.  Eve Heaton, of Science Notebooking, has posted about this in detail on her blog, along with a nice clock face.

After re-reading her posts, and doing some additional reading on Proteacher and AtoZ Teacherstuff forums I’ve thought through my procedures. I’m going to start doing this in January, and break the process down into steps. If it goes well, I’ll do it next year starting in August. I don’t plan on spending more than 10 minutes per day over three days on the setup and practice.

Day 1:

  • Introduce the idea and “ground rules”
    • If someone asks you to be their buddy, you must say yes. No making faces, no backing away.
    • Walk and talk quietly as you make your appointments.
    • Pass out the clocks, and have them write their name in the middle.
    • Today we will make appointments for 2, 6, and 10 o’clock.
    • These will be partners I have chosen for them. I will review the ground rules of being polite. No making faces or comments.
    • To create these pairs I will rank the students ability-wise in order from highest to lowest. Then I will split this list in half and place them side by side. Since there are three appointments needed, I pair the student at the top of the left column with the first three students on the right, making adjustments as needed.
    • I will make a master spreadsheet of these teacher created pairs and show them on my Promethean board.
    • Procedure for students:
      • Find your 2 o’clock partner and stand back to back.
      • I will check to make sure everyone is responding appropriately and in they are paired correctly, then they can write their partners names in the correct part of the clock.
      • To avoid accidental “overbooking” I’m going to have them color in the space for that hour.
      • Repeat for the other two teacher chosen appointments.
      • Students will glue clocks in to their notebooks.

Day 2

  • Students will pair with their clock partners to answer some review questions from yesterdays lessons. Three questions, one for each appointment we made yesterday.
  • Today we will make three more appointments – 2, 6, and 10 o’clock.
  • Procedure for finding partners:
    • Students will choose a partner of the opposite gender and turn back to back.
    • When I see that everyone has a partner, then they can write their partners names in the correct part of the clock.
    • To avoid accidental “overbooking” I’m going to have them color in the space for that hour.

Day 3

  • Students will answer review questions from yesterday’s lesson by working with their clock partners. 2 questions today, one partner from the first day and one partner from the second day.
  • We will make 3 appointments today at 12, 4, and 8 o’clock. These will be “student choice” partners – they will only be limited to students who are not already on their clocks.
  • Procedure for finding partners:
    • Students will choose a partner and turn back to back.
    • When I see that everyone as a partner, then they can write their partners names in the correct part of the clock.
    • To avoid accidental “overbooking” I’m going to have them color in the space for that hour.

This will leave three open spaces on the clock, but will create 9 pairs. My average class size is eighteen, so I could add a friend for a class of twenty, or take one away for a class of 16. I still control what groups I want them to work in by calling the hour, so it doesn’t matter.

Random thoughts:

  • students whose partner is not there will report to the board and I will assign them to a group.
  • I think I will use a spinning wheel on my promethean board with the clock numbers on it to occasionally choose “hours” to increase the “random” factor.
  • I want to make a concerted effort to use the strategy at least two to three times a week.

Variation on the Clock:

  • Baseball Partners – Diagram of a baseball field, four partners.
  • Ocean/Continent Partners – Outline Map of the world, 7+ partners depending on how many you fill in.
  • Cell phone partners (same principle as clock using the keypad numbers instead of hours)

I would love to hear from you if you successfully use this strategy – please include your tips and tricks or if you know another variation!


6 comments so far

  1. mysciencelessons on

    I use a similar strategie but call it science buddies. I have 8 different scientists and students will partner up with their Marie Curie or Albert Einstein. If a student can’t fill in a slot, we use it as a wild spot and that has worked out really well. The wild spot can be added to a set of 2 to make a group of 3, fill in for an absent student, or two or more wilds can get together.

    Here is the handout I use:

    One hint is to make sure no kids are absent the day you fill in the time slots! I almost made that mistake when I had one kid out in one of my classes. =)

  2. mrsgannon on

    Good point about absent students! I’m wondering if I could write their name on the board and have students come stand next to the name if that was a partner they chose? Hmmn.

    I like the idea of a “wild” spot – someone is usually absent, unfortunately. I would want to avoid the same child ending up as a “wild” multiple times – maybe the odd numbered child could be the first to pick a partner in the next round? How do you handle that?

  3. Michael Pendergrass on


    I just wanted to tell you about our new clock partners site — It will make all the clock partner charts for your students automatically in a nice pdf file that you can print/reprint as often as you need (lost charts, etc). It ensures that every student has a match and that there are no repeats for up to 24 hours on the clock face (of course you have to have enough students for that many matches 🙂 ). If a new student comes into your class during the year or one moves away, it is easy to make a new set of charts with our site. Anyway, just thought you might like to try it out. All new users (at least for now) get 1 free chart to try it out.
    take care,

  4. samsung corby wifi on

    What an all round great blog…

  5. […] Clock Partners « Teaching Social Studies […]

  6. beckysearls on

    Thanks for the info! I’ve done this in the past but it was a great idea to break it down & assign the first three. Looking forward to trying this today in my high school Spanish class!

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