Having students work in teams isn’t anything new to the classroom. As we all know, there are many benefits to having students work together on classroom activities. The challenging part is the when and how we get our students into their groups/teams. As soon as you mention the word “partners” your students instantly begin to shoot looks across the room to their friends, giving them the silent message for “let’s partner up.” We have all used the same old techniques for getting students into groups, whether that be the counting off technique, matching cards, picking names out of a hat, or having them turn to the person to their right or left. Certainly, these techniques work, but they do get old.
Thanks to technology, there are some new and innovative Apps to make this process easier and certainly more interesting and fun for you and your students. Within the App store, there are several “team picker” apps to aid in this painful process of grouping students. Some of the Apps are free and some are paid for, either way you should make sure to check them out!
One of my personal favorites is the Team Shake App https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/team-shake/id390812953?mt=8 . It’s an App for randomly selecting names to create teams, groups, or pairs. The App prompts you to import a list of student names to create a class roster. What makes this App unique is that you have the ability to mark students as present or absent. So, if a student is out for the day you simply mark him/her as absent and their name will be excluded from your roster for that day’s activities. In addition, you may identify each student’s ability level, which the App will take into consideration when selecting groups.
When you’re ready to group your students just select the desired number of teams and select the number of students you would like per grouping. Simply give your device a few shakes, and voila, your teams have been created.
By shaking things up within the classroom we will certainly create greater excitement and increase student engagement.