Creating Social Connections

Happiness researchers report that deep social connections are a serious predictor of happiness. So, today we will focus on 11 ways to connect students to one another. One way to increase the opportunities for children to connect with each other is to increase the number of minutes they are asked to work together in partners or small groups.

Creating Groups Inclusively

Open any book about happiness and you will find an entire chapter devoted to gratitude. This is considered the number one happiness booster by most happiness researchers. If you haven’t tried it personally, it is a powerful experience and a joy game-changer.

Partnering Ideas

Clock buddies:

See and print the clock buddy printable below. Have students make “appointments” with 12 different students on their sheet. Now, as you call out 2:00 buddies, everyone has a pre-assigned partner.

Seasonal partners:

Select a spring, summer, winter and fall partner for each student. Now, when the teacher says “fall partner” they simply have to go find the correct partner.

Vocabulary match up:

Match words like “election” with its definition to find your partner.

Playing card partners:

As students enter the room give them a playing card. Now have them find someone with the same suit, color or number.

Rock, paper, scissors:

An easy way to divide a class in half.

Content area match-up:

State & capitol, math problem & solution groups, color match, number match, letter match.

Elbow partners:

Who is next to your elbow?

Why do these ideas work in an inclusive classroom? They work because students are not left to select their friends or make choices about who they want to partner with and who they don’t. Instead, the task is a cognitive one: find the match! Next you can teach students how to go about partnering, such as what is looks like or sounds like to meet and greet a partner.

How to Create More Opportunities for Social Connections

Lunch Bunches:

Lunch groups or lunch bunches can be designed around a particular student who needs more social support or friendships.

Peer Support:

Incorporate peer support into the day by having a rule where students first “ask three before me” or check with three other students before checking in with the teacher.

Strength Based Jobs:

Have an expert wall where students list their strengths in terms of how they can help the community (i.e.spelling support, math support, organizational support, cheering up support).

Make Quick Connections Throughout the Lesson:

Work multiple opportunities for peer connection into a lesson (i.e., Pair Share, Turn and Talk).

Build Community:

If you do not already have a book on building community, consider buying one or googling community builders (e.g., Back to Back, Car wash, Dinner party conversations). These activities not only build connections, they also create happier learning environments.

Now, it’s time for you to go for it! What ideas will you choose from today to help students connect to each other and support one another’s learning? We would love to hear your favorites… or see pictures of your work!

Join us in the discussion group to share your best ideas for making connection between students.

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