I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s an idea I got from our biology teacher. Essentially, “Clock Buddies” is a system of group work that I have found (after using it a great deal in several classes over the last few weeks) to be very effective.
Students are given a handout that has a clock face on it. They sign up with twelve other people for “partner” assignments. Once they have a buddy for each time on their clock, you are ready to go. Next time you want students to work with a partner, tell them to work with their 9 o’clock buddies (or whatever number you prefer). Students have choice in terms of who they work with, but they also work with different people. Hint: Students usually sign up with their best friends for 12 o’clock or 1 o’clock, so if you want to make sure they really buckle down, you can avoid calling those times often.