Methods for dividing students into groups seem to fall into five categories:
a.) Chosen entirely by teacher.
b.) Initial randomization, with some changes by teacher for accomodation.
c.) Complete pre-randomization.
d.) Complete in-class randomization.
e.) Student choice.
I have had logistical and time issues with a through c lately (especially with student absences), and both d and e also have problems (d can result in resentment and students trying to swap cards to get with who they want, and e can result in cliques of motivation-less students).
So I’ve been trying a method with some success lately that is a mash-up of d and e.
First, students choose a partner.
Then, one student from each group of two draws cards. Each card has a match somewhere in the draw pile.
After all cards are drawn, groups of two that have the same card now combine to form a group of four.
This method combines both the initial student buy-in of choice and the forced-to-interact-with-others quality of randomness.
With a little bit of card legerdemain it’s even possible to incorporate method b and ensure certain matchups don’t happen.
In odd-number-of-students situations I have designated a “free agent” student who is free to choose a group after all the groups are decided.
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