Here is a strategy that I have used many times during the school year, particularly during the first two weeks of school.
Give each student a sheet with a 12-hour clock printed on it. Along the side of each number on the clock, place a line extending horizontally where a student’s name can be written. The assignment is to fill in at least one other student’s name per line.
Now here is how this works. Explain to the students
“First, I take my sheet and go to another student. I ask if he or she would like to be my 1:00 buddy. If the answer is yes, then I write their name on my sheet – and they write my name on their sheet. We make sure that we spell each other’s names correctly!”
Tell the students how to continue the process. If, for example, someone’s 1:00 buddy line is already filled, they can ask about another time, e.g. “Well, if we cannot be buddies at 1:00, what about 3:00?”
Depending on the size of the class, for each of the 12 slots, students should write in one name for a class of 12. They will have two names for a class of 24, and 3 names for larger groups.
This “Round the Clock Buddy” exercise can also become the basis for many future activities. It is a great method to organize a “think-pair-share” or brainstorming activity. I then say to my students:
“Please make an appointment with your 2:00 buddy and I would like for you to discuss… (whatever it is you as the teacher want the class to discuss at that point).”
The children really seem to enjoy this exercise – and it gives you something to vary the normal routine.