1. The Speed DialThis one is a Pinterest favourite of mine. Admittedly, I haven't actually used it yet, but I like the idea and if used in moderation with other random name choices I can see it working very well.
|Click here for the source and further explanation|
2. Deck of Cards
I like to use Skip-Bo and Uno cards, but a standard deck works just fine too. The deck is passed around and each student draws from the deck (or you place them on desks etc). You call out a sorting principle like: colour, even/ odd numbers, shapes, words. Then the students find a partner or other specified number of friends accordingly. For example: if you have an odd numbered card, you need to find a friend who also has an odd number. If you have an even numbered card you need to find a friend who also has an even number. You might change it up by saying, make a group of four people each with a different colour. I think it is important that you change the sorting principle each time you use this, otherwise kids will try to stack the odds in their favour by swapping cards before the groups form. I also like to get the kids to form groups of two and then ask them to work with the pair to make a larger sized group with a different sorting principle. This often allows for practice in sorting/ classifying and noticing characteristics The possibilities are endless. Of course, you sometimes don't want to take the extra time that this type of sorting takes and that is when you need "go to" random selection tools.
3. Pop Sticks in a CupI'm sure you have probably seen this before but just in case. Write one student name on each pop stick and ask students to draw them out of the cup until everyone is sorted.
4. Pattern Blocks/ LegoThis one is similar to the deck of cards, but you are looking at different features. Students can group again by colour. You can also ask them to find a partner that has a shape with the same number of sides, a different number of sides (and the list goes on). If using lego, you can ask the students to "make 10" by counting the circles on the top of the lego piece and finding enough friends to make ten circles. If you are practising adding with the class you can choose a different number to make. You will also have to consider the size of the pieces you are using.
5. Topical matchingHalf of your students are given a definition and the other half are given a vocabulary word. They have to match themselves to their word/ definition. This can be adapted to most topics. You could also do compound words: students are each given a small word and asked to find a partner to make a compound word. This can be a nice check for work covered and students are focused on the curriculum rather than who they are with, then you can say, okay stay with your partner and now we are going to talk about...
6. TechnoToolsMichelle mentioned The Random Name Generator from Super Teacher Tools. This is a free online which you can paste a class list into and it will choose names at random. There is a 'group maker tool' that Super Teacher Tools has also created. There are other applications like this that you can find online, some are free and others cost between $2-$5. If you have access to technology in your classroom (there are some teachers who don't) I think this is worth it.
Am I allowed to have a list of 6?
Oh, well. I do.
For the non-teachers who regularly visit my site, I guess you won't use this stuff in your own life or work. I am assured that this little glimpse into the world of education will help you to appreciate the brilliance of the teacher mind. It might also alert you to the fact that I am a genius. LOL