Note: I stole this idea from my cooperating teacher during student teaching, so I do not take credit for it!
Why I use this: I used this strategy today as my students worked in groups for a brief, 15-20 minute assignment. With these assignments, I don’t want to necessarily put the time in and outside of class assigning students to groups; however, I don’t want them to choose their own groups, either (for reasons I am sure all teachers have grappled with).
How I do it: I have a stack of index cards that I utilize throughout the year. I label them as such: 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 3a, 3b… and so on. I think I have through 7 this year (depending on how many students you have in class.)
When students walk in at the beginning of class, they are handed one of these index cards. Now, you may have to take some time the first time you do this to explain it to them, but my students now know where 1s sit, where 2s sit, where 3s sit, where 4s sit- so they find their seats accordingly as they come into the room. All the 1s are in a group, all the 2s are in a group, etc.
I also use the letters to assign roles to different group members, since each group will have an a, b, c, and d. (For example, a is the recorder, b gathers materials…)
Reasons I like this:
- My students know what group they are in without me wasting class time assigning groups.
- It doesn’t seem like I have assigned groups- it seems like I am randomly giving out numbers- but as students walk in, I make a mental note of which card numbers I give to certain students. This way, I can ensure that certain students are not working with one another, or that certain students are working with one another.