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Getting Into Groups

Getting Into Groups

Organizing students into groups can be time consuming. Here are some fast, easy ways to organize a group of students for the process of group work within a specific timeframe within a class. These strategies are fun, fast and will facilitate group formation while reducing the chances of students being left out.

Getting into groups can accomplish several things; increased socialization and getting to know others in the class, performing an activity in class that will enhance learning, or getting up and moving – breaking up the boredom of sitting and listening!

Grouping Gimmicks
Colour groups: Use colour stickers to divide students into colour groups. You can put the stickers on a handout that you give to participants, or directly on a person, or on their chairs. You can also use different colour name tags as a way to sort participants.  When you are prepared to divide into groups, you simply identify where in the room you want each colour to meet.

Candy groups: Use different colour individually wrapped candy to sort your students into groups. Hand out the candy, being careful to use the same amount of each colour. When you are ready to divide into groups, simply identify where in the room you want each candy group to meet. Once they are grouped, they can eat their candy!

Odd/Even groups: Use the participants month, year, or date of birth to divide into pairs. Say, “When I say go, find someone else in the room that is born on the same number day as you." If you were born on an even day of the month, say, “I’m even, I’m even” until you find a partner. If you were born on an odd day of the month, say, “I’m odd, I’m odd”, until you find a partner. You can also do this by using ‘wears glasses’ or ‘does not wear glasses’.  Have each participant find someone else in the room that is the same as they are. 

Favourite Season/Food/Dessert/Time of Day/etc.: You can use any of these categories to get into pairs or groups for an activity. Grouping by this means will not result in even numbers of group members, but for many activities this does not matter.

Favourite type of music/movie/media/gaming system/etc.: You can use these categories to help form groups. Plan for how many groups you would like.  Prepare a sign for each group i.e. ‘Pop Music’, ‘Country Music’, 'Gospel Music’, ‘Classical Music’, ‘Metal Music’, ‘Rock Music’, etc.  Put the signs on the wall where you want the groups to meet.  When you are ready to divide into groups, simply show them the group options, and then tell them to go to the sign that best fits their favourite music or whatever favourite category you have chosen. You can also use worst annoying habit that people do, i.e. ‘sniffing’, ‘fingernails on chalkboard’, ‘fidgeting’, ‘humming’, etc.

Colour Groups: Use personal colour items to divide into groups. For instance, matching eye colour, hair colour, shoe colour, shirt colour, etc. This is an easy and prop-free method of getting into pairs or groups.         

Course Specific Content Groups: Use this as a method of forming groups if you are interested in finding out what content interests which participants or you wish for groups to research a specific portion of content as the activity. Put up signs in the room stating specific content. When you say go, have students go to the content group that most interests them.      

“When You Arise” groups: Have students get into groups based on how they feel when they get up in the morning.  Options may be; grumpy, sleepy, energetic, creative, etc.  You can also divide into groups using metaphors, or concepts. 

Atom Divide
You can use this as a group mixer or a method of group formation.  You ask every student to stand up and start mingling around the room. When you say, “Atom 5”, they are to move as quickly as possible to form groups of 5. You can simply say how many people you want in a group, “Atom 3”, etc. Sometimes students won’t mill around voluntarily so you can ask them to mingle as if they were:

  • Late for a meeting
  • Trying to conceal their identity
  • Walking on hot coals
  • Being chased by a bear
  • Walking on a red carpet
  • Balancing on a log over a raging river

If you have a student who gets left out, simply re-organize groups again, and have that student stand next to you and call out the next Atom – “Atom 7”. This student can then join a new group; or, you can just assign a student who did not find a group the first time to a group.