When you think back to your middle school or high school math classroom, what do you see? Rows of separated desks where you worked independently to solve every math problem on a worksheet? I know that was my experience! And, if you are like me, you are looking for ways to change up how learning happens in the math classroom. Enter math partner activities!
Using partner activities in your classroom is a great way to make math more collaborative, engaging, and accessible to your students!
We all want students that are more engaged with the content and more students to master the content. That is why I highly recommend using math partner activities. They are a simple and easy way to skyrocket engagement and help students strengthen their skills.
Why Use Math Partner Activities?
We all know the old saying, “Two heads are better than one” and I’m here to tell you that when it comes to learning math concepts, it’s true! I would probably tweak the saying just a little to be something like, “Two heads can learn more together than one” because when it comes down to it, students being able to work through concepts together gets them farther than they can get on their own.
For the most part, middle and high school school students are social beings (probably more so than any other beings around!). Allowing them time to interact with their peers is crucial for their overall development as well as the culture of your classroom.
Second, being able to see how someone else approaches a problem or solves an equation allows students to learn from each other. I’m willing to bet that most of your students are probably more willing to learn from each other than from you. It’s not something to be upset about, its just the nature of the beast, so we should harness it!
I truly could go on about how partner games are the way to go, but here are my top reasons:
- Builds collaboration and teamwork skills
- Higher engagement than other types of activities
- Gives students new perspective on the concept
- Allows for extra practice with concepts
- Supports students who may need extra exposure or scaffolding to learn concepts
- Harnesses the social nature of preteens and uses it in a productive manner
Truly with some simple expectations and a little pre-planning, math partner games can transform your classroom!
Partner Pandemonium: My Favorite Partner Activity
When I think about math partner activity, I look no further than one I like to call Partner Pandemonium.
How to Play
Partner Pandemonium isn’t your typical math partner activity. It allows for students to independently work through problems on their own and then collaborate with peers. This eliminates any worry of one student doing all of the work. When using Partner Pandemonium you know that both students are getting practice.
Here’s how it works:
Partners sit next to each other. Each partner gets a set of math problems except the problems for each student are different.
There is one important catch though. Each problem will give them the same answer!
Then they compare their answers. Remember, even though they have different math problems, both of their answers will be the same. This allows partners to easily identify if they have gotten the correct answer. Which also means that this game can be truly independent. No need for students to check in with you for answers before moving on!
If they both have the same answer, they record it on the answer sheet. If they didn’t get the same answer, they work together to figure out whose work is incorrect and fix any errors.
Once they both have the same answer, they move on to the next problem on their sheet and the process starts over until they have finished the activity.
Students get to tackle the concept independently and work with other students. It’s a win-win. You can make the activity even more engaging by timing teams or having partners rotate after a certain number of problems are completed.
Do your students respond better to digital activities? With Partner Pandemonium you can skip the copying and instead assign a digital version of the game using Google Jamboard! (Don’t have a ton of experience with Jamboard? No worries! Check out my post to learn all about ways you can use it in classroom!)
By uploading the problems into Jamboard, you give students the unique opportunity to solve their problems “side by side” in real-time. Plus, you are able to see each students work in real-time. This makes it easy for you to give feedback as you are able to comment on their work through Jamboard.
I really like using the activity this way because besides the two partners, no one knows who I’ve been giving feedback to. And since most middle schoolers don’t enjoy getting feedback in front of their peers, this is a great way to provide that support. Plus, since students can see each other’s work in real-time, they can work through any potential missteps right in the moment versus waiting for both problems to be completed.
Don’t Have Time to Make Your Own Math Partner Activities?
Let me help you! I’ve loved using Partner Pandemonium so much in my classroom, I have decided to add these activities to my TpT Store. Check them out below!
What math partner activitess and games do you love using in your classroom? Let me know!