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Friday, September 12, 2014

Grouping Students & Problem Solving

Groups .... oh, groups ... In the past I imy kids pick their own groups, or I picked for them.   Then several years ago at a CAST workshop about Forensics the teacher suggested using different color rubber bracelets and make them draw.  I loved this idea, but could not find bracelets ... but I found small colored foam block in the elementary section of a teacher store.  I put them in a dark, cloth bag I had at home.

Now they kids don't love this.  But it definitely takes the pressure off those kids that are left to last.  So I do this almost all the time now.  And as much as they grumble, I think they all like it.  I do remind them that if anyone is caught switching colors I will assign groups and make sure they don't get to work together for a long time.  

Then last year another teacher was telling me about something one of her college professors had done to group them.  I didn't really understand, and may have turned it into something even more complex for the students.  They each drew a piece of paper.  On the paper was a word, and no one had the same word ... what?  I told them there should be five groups of four and they had to figure out how to put themselves into groups based on those words.  It was awesome!  If you want to see problem solving use this baby.  

I used color as my categories the first time.  So there were items of every color of the rainbow listed.  I made sure to have a few gemstones, a few fruit, etc to try to increase difficulty.  It was awesome to watch them try to figure it out.

Another teacher tried it and made the rule that they have to keep their paper in their hand, because they were putting the strips on the desk and then sorting.  I like this rule.  I like them having to talk to one another to solve the problem.    The picture shows an animals list that another teacher used.  Love this!!!

The possibilities are endless.  I want to do one with characters from crime shows for my forensics class.  You could even do words that start with the same letter, same parts of speech, sports teams (different sports), etc.  We are trying to gather lists and share as a staff.  

Do you think you would use this?  What categories would you use in your room?  What categories do you think we should use?

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