I let my classes do partner work today on a long and winding study guide. That's the good news. The bad news was that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom selected the partners by drawing randomly from a set of index cards with their names.
This was their first time for such collaborative learning in my classroom. As always, I cautioned them about their responses to the partner reveal.
"We will not show emotion upon hearing the name of our partner. You are unlikely to get the partner of your dreams. In fact, some of you may get the partner of your nightmares. But remember that you will only be working with them for about 30 minutes. Surely you can manage to work with a classmate for that amount of time without issue. If not, then we will not be doing any more partner work. So let's get this straight. No shouts of joy, no groans of despair. We are civilized human beings. We will not be unkind to our classmates. Is that understood?"
Three of the four classes did very well. There were several matches made in not-heaven. Like the girl paired with the boy she tried to show how to whistle through her fists yesterday, causing me to chastise HIM because I heard the whistle and saw his hands. Even though he could not make the whistle. Funny how quickly he forgave her.
The class of offenders was the class with the most exemplary behavior each day. As some people call them, the smart kids. Though I prefer to think of them as the kids who care about earning good grades. Because they all put forth effort, there was really no bad partner to be had. When names were pulled, some high-fived. Some fist-pumped. Some groaned because that's the person they sit by every day anyway. I told them they were not doing well in the non-showing of emotion department. They apologized.
"You people will not be winning any Academy Awards for your subtle acting techniques. You also will not be winning at poker, because you cannot conceal your emotions."
I don't think they cared. This is the kind of group who would form an MIT card-counting team to beat the casinos at blackjack. Not to get rich. To prove that they could.