In my classroom students work with their math buddy during math journal time, 3 days a week and on their own the other 2 days. They love working with their buddy and it really fosters that good conversation between two learners. When thinking about grouping my buddies, I always group on like ability level. I want my students to grow and they need someone on the same level as them. I would never group a high and a low together as math buddies, because the high has no one to have a deep conversation with and the low will continue to be confused. I try to think about a few things when grouping buddies….
1. like ability levels (strategic with strategic, high with high, etc.)
2. Who will have good conversation together?
3. Which students will nurture each other’s thinking?
Then I group my buddies and change them out each quarter. Wow, think about how powerful that is to have four different people throughout the school year that they have had a chance to think deeply about math with for an extended time.
I also have math buddies work together during mathematician work after the mini lesson from time to time. Sharing a conversation about numbers builds such good foundations in number sense and problem solving.