Partners really help eliminate a lot of nonacademic and also help the kids to take more ownership of their time. For example, instead of having one person answer, you could have everyone turn and tell your partner the answer.
I also have a strict rule in my class that we help our partner all the time. You will often hear me say "Did you ask your partner" at the beginning of the year. Eventually they figure out that partners can help them a lot quicker than I can! This helps keep kids on task long and I love it because I don't have to answer a question that student SHOULD already know the answer to!
So in my class we use Peanut Butter and Jelly partners, just because that is what I was required to do for so long and what I am used to. There are however lots of other fun names for partners and guess what I did... I made them for you for FREE! These symbols can be taped to tables (or where ever) or strung around string to wear when you are doing the majority of your partnering. I always taped them because we did this ALL day!
Why do you want to label your partners? Well some theories suggest that you need to give assignments with precision! for example, Peanut Butters turn to Jelly and tell them who the character is. This way they are not arguing over who goes first and also the same person is not always answering all the time.
A new thing I have implemented this year is putting them right on my name tags on their tables! (Brilliant I tell you!) I got so tired of buying the desk plates that the kids just destroy. "Let's just throw my money away why don't we." Made me mad! They NEVER use all that information anyways... it's just a distraction!
So I made my own! Sometimes I do the partnering ones, but right now I have pumpkin ones. I usually change them every couple of months, and the pumpkin ones could get me through that. =) Head on over to see them!
Have a great week!