So do you ever get tired of trying to pair kids up with someone? Sometimes it seems it takes longer to get everyone to pair up than to do anything else in a lesson! This is a tip I borrowed from somewhere and honestly I don't even know where it came from. So I'm asking forgiveness ahead of time--if you know the origin, please let me know!
Make a handout with a picture of a circular clock. Fill in 12, 3,6, and 9. Let the kids have a few minutes to fill in their clock with "appointments." For example, Susie could have John's name at 12, Bill's name at 3 and Carrie's name at 6.
Then when you reach a point in your lesson where you want kids to share with someone quickly, tell them to choose their "3 o'clock appointment" person. So Susie would go share with Bill. Then next time, choose another time. This keeps kids moving, and it gives them an outlet to talk and share with various people around the room, without two people becoming so attached their conversations drift off topic.
I've used this in my classroom and my library. It works well with middle school and high school students. Let me know if you try this!