Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Random Groups

There are many apps and ways online that you can create random groups for your classes.

I've had one I LOVED - until the iPad from 2011 busted last year. I had paid for that one ($1.99 or so?), and it was very cute. It could even keep data! Alas, it's gone, I can't find it again, and I don't know how to use my own account to pay for an app on a school-issued iPad. So when I happened upon someone was sharing about a way to use random groupings, I realized why I'd been saving my box of 500 "craft sticks" (a.k.a. tongue depressors)!

Here they are finished:

Here's a tiny bit of explanation, as you probably get the gist:

  • Each stick has a color (paint), number (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5), shape (circle, square, triangle, star, or heart), and letter (T, H, O, M, S - close to our school name). 
  • All the information is on one end of each stick, so they can be put in a cup w/o students seeing what's on them.
  • All the information is on both sides of each stick.
  • I rotated the shapes (on 1 for blue, 2 for green, etc.) and letters, as well.
  • The white-tipped are "extras" - they are the same number, shape, and letters as the blue. I will only need the white-tipped ones when I have 30 students (homeroom). Most of my three classes have been 25 students or fewer. If I have 26 or more, I'll add white-tipped ones as needed, and just not sort by color.
  • I can also ask students to organize by color of the ink I used (silver or blue) for two large groups.
  • There are four extra sticks - they say "color," "number," "shape," and "letter," so students can pull one for sorting prior to the activity.

If I were to do them again (and I totally can, as they're super easy)...

  • I'd change the letters - to X and E instead of O and S. Or maybe find something else to use besides letters. Stickers might work, but they might fall off, too. I probably won't change them, as I think seventh graders can figure out that a circle is not necessarily a letter O, and that we'll have number, shape, and letter in that order. Good for following directions, I guess.
  • I'd use different markers. My silver doesn't show up well, and my blue bleeds.
  • I'd ask someone with better handwriting to write on them. 

Goin' back to old school - even though I've used Flippity and have a spreadsheet that will group students randomly. I'll use that in some circumstances, for sure, but these are nice to just get out of the drawer and sort.

On a side note - yes, Karen and Yvette - I made you each a set, as well. 👍

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