Pair Cards – A fun, easy way to create student groups

Pairing up students can be as easy as talk to your shoulder partner (person next to you) or face partner (person in front of you).  Using pair cards is a way to mix it up in a random, fun way that gets the students moving around the room using commonly known pairs.  Now, I know this blog is entitled “Teach with Tech”, so feel free to use a tech tool to create random groups, such as this nice one from Alice Keeler called “Group Maker” that creates groups from a roster in a Google Sheet.

But sometimes it’s fun to have the students get up and find their partner.  It’s well known that state changes, such as getting up after sitting for a while, helps students oxygenate their blood, stretch their legs, and think better.  How can you do this without basic, boring cards with numbers, letters, colors, or icons on them?

Use these Pair Cards

There are 36 pairs of cards which will accommodate 72 students.  Students pair up by finding their matching card.  For instance, “macaroni” finds “cheese”, “Batman” finds “Robin”, and “Kit” finds “Kat”.  Feel free to pick the pairs you think would be understood by your students or make a copy for yourself (File –> “Make a Copy”) and add new ones.

How to use these cards

  • Print them out on cardstock. Use different colored cardstock to have more pairing options. So with different colored cards, you can ignore the words and just use the colors to group students (Obviously, 2 different colors makes 2 groups, 4 different colors makes 4 groups, etc…).
  • Cut each card out.
  • Count the number of pairs you will need for your class size. Discard the extra cards.  For example, 30 students requires 15 pairs of cards.
  • Mix the cards up and give each student a card.  Better yet, let them pick one.
  • Direct the students to find their partner by matching their cards.
  • Direct students to assign a “Person A” and a “Person B” to facilitate discussions.  For example, Person A talks for 30 seconds about what he/she did this weekend and then Person B gets 30 seconds.  I suggest that for each question you give students 30 seconds – 1 minute of think time to formulate an answer before they respond to the question.  Call on students to share out with the class WHAT THEIR PARTNER SAID.  This builds listening skills!

Pair Card Activities

  • Icebreaker activity – Ask students to share with each other the answers to these questions.
    • “If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?”
    • “If you could be teleported to any place on Earth, where would it be and why?”
    • “What place do you really want to visit someday and why?”
    • “What person (dead, alive, or fictitious) would you like to meet and why?”
    • “What would you buy if you had $100 million dollars and why?”
    • “If you had one last meal to eat, what would it be?”
  • Class discussions on a topic such as climate change, the First Amendment, symbolism in a poem, current events, or solving an equation.  Any kind of interpretation, debate, or analysis question will do.
  • Peer feedback on written works, slide presentations, classwork practice questions, or video lessons.  
  • Combine 2 pairs of students to start a larger discussion about any topic.

Watch how much fun students have finding their partners and building their listening and communication skills through your activities.  If you like these cards, make a laminated set and share them with your colleagues.

Tell me what you think in the comments below and share any stories of success (or failure) with using this method of pairing up students.

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