Clock Partners: Pairing students to work together

I'm so excited to have one of my good blogging friends stop by today. Tessa is sharing a great way to partner up your students. I've seen this before and always wanted to try it! - Denise

Hi everyone!  I'm Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom.  I'm so excited to have the opportunity to guest blog for Denise.  Thank you so much Denise!  The last time I was here sharing about BUILD Math Centers, everyone was so kind in their comments.  I hope you enjoy this post as well! Have you heard of clock partners?  It's a great management strategy to partner your students up quickly.  It's easy to introduce partway through the year, and might be a great way to build a bit more control into your day. I also modify it to help with differentiation.
(Click on the picture to download)
Here's how Clock Partners works: Students take their page, walk around the room and find 12 different partners.  They each write their partner's name on the same line.  For example, if I'm partnering with you at 12, I write my name on your page at 12, and you write your name on my page at 12.  You can help control this by only allowing them to get 1 partner at a time then coming together and waiting till you say "Go" to find their next partner.  Then, as you want students to partner up, you announce that they need to find their "4 o'clock partner" for example.  This keeps feelings from being hurt, time being wasted, and allows you to change up who students are working with. How I modify it for differentiation: I give students some of their matches.  For example, I might make the 3 o'clock partner a student who reads at the same or similar level.  Then, I might make the 9 o'clock partner a student who reads at a higher or lower level.  Then, when I want students to partner up to read, I can quickly partner them up.  I recommend writing these partnerships on the clocks before you distribute them and keeping a master list for yourself.  You can even use it to make a quick reading group if you use more than one time.  For example, you could make the 3 and 4 similar reading levels.  If you use those same three students as 3 and 4 for each other, you can ask them to meet with both partners and you've made a small group of 3.  Here's a sample way I've arranged the partners.
12- similar math ability
1- similar reading ability
2- similar reading ability
3- similar reading ability
4- free choice
5- free choice
6- different math ability
7- free choice
8- different reading ability
9- different reading ability
10- free choice
11- free choice
Students still have some choices in who their partners are for times when you don't need the partners to be a specific ability level.  For reading, I include the same skill on more than one time so students aren't matched with the same person too often.  You can also change the partners after a couple months just to keep things interesting and fresh. Do you do Clock Partners in your classroom in a different way?  Is there a different way you quickly partner your students?  I've seen some great projectable apps around Pinterest.


  1. SUCH a good idea! I've always done the clocks, but never organized them in a way that actually makes sense for the purpose of the lesson or activity!!! I am so going to do this! Thank you! :)

    1. I'm not a big fan of letting kids choose their partners all the time. I'm too much of a control freak! :) This way helps me compromise!

  2. This is such a great idea! I always forget about using clock partners, but this way is even better (and might make me remember to do it more).

    Fun in Room 4B

  3. What an interesting way to set up partners! I did Clock Partners when I was student teaching, but the students set up the clocks themselves, randomly. I like this way better!

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

    1. This helps me compromise and keep a bit of control!

  4. I love the way you differentiated the clock! I need to try this!! Thanks :)

    EduKate and Inspire

  5. I take the clock partners and use a brad so that two clocks are together, then I put the "lower" reading kids on the inside and the higher readers on the outside. Then I can rotate the disks around and everybody has a partner. It works for evens and odds the odd man out gets to choose his or her group.

  6. Love your new way of organizing clock partners! Thanks for sharing it!
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  7. I just had a pro dev yesterday and this was one of our topics. I like the way you diffeentiated the clocks. I am going to try it this way. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome! I think it's an easy way to help your differentiation efforts.

  8. Ah! Thank you for this post! I have head of clock partners, and I just wasn't sure how to manage them to get the differentiated part working smoothly. Your idea of a master list hit me smack in the forehead! Of course!

    Thank you so much!

    Craft of Teaching

    1. I hope it helps you implement it smoothly in your classroom :)

  9. Hi, I am new to blogging but I just wanted to let you know that I love your design! Teaching + flip flops-ahhhhhh! Love this idea of clock partners & looking forward to future ideas! If you get a chance stop by & check out my blog to wind down at the end of a busy day of teaching!

  10. Love this! I'm definitely going to try it. Thank you for sharing!


Back to Top