"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."
- Attributed to Phil Jackson
Group work is often either enjoyed or reviled by students and this can come down to a a range of factors, including previous experiences with group work, the individuals in the team, the task, the culture of the classroom, and how the groups are set up - assigned or self-chosen by the students. I enjoyed some group tasks; typically those where I had a team around me with everyone doing their part towards the whole, and I have also strongly disliked other group tasks; often those where there was a perception that one or more people in the group was not pulling their weight. Setting groups can be important.
You want students to mix with others, especially those with whom they might not associate with (reasons for which are perhaps self-evident, but also laid out nicely in this TED talk) and so it is often necessary to assign groups. This leads to the question of how do you do that? You can, of course, always manually assign the groups looking for the optimal mix of students who work well together, will encourage each other etc. or you can use various tools to randomly assign groups. This post is going to look at some of those.
1. Class Dojo (free)
Class Dojo cops a lot of flack for a lot of reasons, but it does include the ability to create groups within Dojo very easily. These groups are manually set up but it allows you to then use those for a variety of activities, or even just table groups.
2. Team Shake (paid)
Team Shake is an app ovailable on iOs and Android that allows you to create up to sixty-four groups that can either be random or balanced. You also have a few other nifty features such as always enabling that people are on the same or different teams, exporting the teams to another device, and the ability to assign user strength levels which can then factor into the balancing of the teams.
3. Random Group Creator (free)
This free tool is very simple and allows you to enter all of the names and then randomise those names into groups, either by keeping them evenly sized or by filling a group to its maximum capacity (set by you) before creating the next group.
4. Setting up Rotating Groups (free)
You may want to have your groups change on a regular basis. This system provides a relatively quick and easy way to set that up knowing that you are getting the students rotated through to work with each other.
5. Random Group Maker (free)
This website is quite straightforward, allowing you to enter in the names, set the number of groups, the number of people per group, and then randomise the names across the groups.
They are just five quick and easy tools to set up your groups in class. If you have a favoured tool that is not listed here, let me know what it is and I can update the list, with credit to you for sharing the tool.
As always, thank you for reading.