I love to offer choice in my classroom, but if I allow students to choose their own partners every day, then they will end up working with the same partner again and again. Many years ago, I watched a science resource teacher use clock partners with my students. I was amazed at how well they chose partners and I love that it meant that they were interacting with more than one person. That was my second year of teaching and I still use clock partners in my classroom eight years later. At the start of each new month, I give students a clock partner sheet. I give them the following directions.
"You have four times on your sheet, 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. Each time represents a different partner that you will have. When I say you may begin, you may get up and move around the room. You will ask other students to be your partner for different times. You cannot have the same partner twice and each boy must have at least one girl and each girl must have at least one boy. When someone agrees to be your partner, you will write their name in the time slot that they asked for. For example, if Christine asks me to be her 12 o'clock partner, then I will write her name on my 12 o'clock line and she will write my name on hers. You will keep going around until you have your four spots filled up, at which time you should return to your seat to let others know that you are no longer available. You will have three minutes to fill your sheet. If you have any blanks spaces at the end of those three minutes, come see me."
Students are usually great about this, but you will have a few that are timid about this that you may have to help to fill in their sheet. For the students that I have left at the end, I first work to pair those students with each other if they have the same time slots available, then I make some trios with other pairs if necessary, being careful to put the students with classmates that they are not already working with.
You can click below for a free copy of my clock partners reproducible!