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Creating Groups and Teams

There are many ways to make groups for cooperative learning. Students would prefer to choose their own groups, and sometimes that works.

However, in real life, how often do we get to choose who we work with?

Just like when making seating charts, creating groups can be like a logic problem that cannot be easily solved. Luckily, group work lasts only a class period, a few days, or the length of a project, at most.

Here are some ways to create random groups:

The Random Draw: Popsicle sticks with names, marbles, (or you could do it like Survivor and crack eggs with colored dye inside)

The Count-Off: Fast and easy, but kids will strategically shuffle around, forget and/or change their numbers and essentially pick their groups.

Cooperative Learning Cards: This strategy uses index cards, stickers, and stamps to create one set of cards to create random groups.

Clock Partners: Basically, students create pairs with 12 other students. It’s hard to explain. Here are two places to get more information.

Seating Chart: If your classroom is set up with pods, tables, or partners, it is easy to establish a routine for group work. For example, Row 1 turns and works with Row 2, Row 3 works with Row 4 and so on. You might need to change your seating chart more often with this option.

Random Generator: I use SMART Notebook’s Random Group Generator to create and display groups quickly. You just set it up each of your classes at the beginning of the year and save the file to your desktop for easy access. If you don’t have a SMARTBoard, try this Team Maker tool I found.

Mystery Grouping: I had a high school chemistry/physics teacher who created our seating chart/lab tables using some crazy techniques. We had to try to figure out the pattern before the end of the nine weeks to earn bonus points. Some examples of her seating charts: She put us in order by our birthday date, our locker numbers, number of letters in our names, and textbook numbers.

How do you generate groups?

Do you allow students to make their own groups?

Do you allow students to work alone on a “group project” if they ask?

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5 responses

  1. […] I use these name tags for the first few days in order to learn their names. Later they can be used to make seating charts or used to create cooperative learning groups. […]

  2. I use the Kagan method and seat my students in groups of mixed abilities. I use FCAT scores to determine seating, keeping behavior issues and personalities in mind. Students never figure out the seating because I change the groups each nine weeks, although students usually sit in the same seat numbers…just at different tables.

    1. It is definitely tricky when you have to work around behavior problems!

  3. Really like these ideas! I often resort to number order or seating groups. Counting off is always nice, although the little guys sometimes “forget” which number they got, creating a mess, (“Keep your number on your fingers…”). I hadn’t thought about letting students work by themselves. I would have liked that as a kid. Do you let students work alone?

    1. In our inclusion S.S. class we had a few kids who always wanted to and we let them. I can understand their need to be in control of their creativity and final product. In my resource room most kids prefer to work with someone. Sometimes one kid will ask if they can be in group with me. Especially when we are reading out loud. Others end up joining in. I love that.

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