Google Sheets, Sorting Cards, thinking

Randomized Grouping Spreadsheet

I have been using Peter Liljedahl’s Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics all year. I talked about the beginning of this adventure and shared some sorting cards that I planned to used with my class.

My sorting cards have been wonderful for most of my classes. I have classes of 26-30 students and the cards sort them perfectly. I have received a lot of questions about how to sort when you have fewer students. I sort as usual, then combine groups that are 1 or 2 students to form my groups of 3. I know some people don’t want that hassle.

I also have ONE class where a few boys will “cheat” and convince people to switch cards after an item has been selected. These boys do not work well together and their actions diminish the positive learning environment in my classroom.

This Google Sheet is the solution I came up with. It can really solve both of the problems listed above.

Random Group Picker Google Sheet

At first glance, you don’t notice that I have placed Bellatrix, Voldemort, and Yaxely in specific cells. They don’t work well together and I don’t want them to end up in the same group. Before class each day, I move them to different cells, but never together. Everyone else is randomly placed in the cells when I click randomize.

To select new groups:

  • Place the names you DON’T want to move in the group you want.
  • Type in the rest of your names
  • Highlight the names
  • Right click (command click) – view more cell actions – and select randomize range.
  • DONE!

The great thing about grouping this way is the endless customization. Notice I don’t have a group 4. If you have smaller class sizes, you can decide how many groups you want and where you want groups to be. I used groups of 3, but you could make groups of 4. There are so many possibilities.

This isn’t as fun or engaging as the sorting cards although I display it on the projector and use the confetti cannon extension after it randomly selects.

My students LOVE the sorting cards, but sometimes you need an alternative. This was my solution. I hope you find it useful.

Freebies, Google Slides, Sorting Cards

Collaborative Group Sorting Cards

**UPDATED** Now includes sorting into groups of 3 for a Thinking Classroom

Have you ever handed out playing cards at the door to sort your students into groups and then watch as students switch cards to make sure they are in the same group? No? Well maybe it’s just me but it happened often.

To fix this problem, a long time ago (like 10 or 11 years) I created sorting cards using a large index card and glued stickers, playing cards, words, equations, graphs, etc., randomly in groups of 4. I had a deck of 34 so I needed 9 sets of 4 for everything I used. I had 4 sets of 9 equations, 4 sets of 9 graphs, 4 sets of 9 coordinating stickers, and so on.

Once they were laminated, I would stand at the door and had each student an index card. They had NO IDEA what I would choose so there was no point in switching cards with someone. I usually randomly pick a person in the class to pick the sorting theme and then they group up by that theme. If I know I need to put certain students together or keep certain student apart, I will pick the theme beforehand and make sure to give those certain students the card I want them to have.

Yes, I know there are ways to sort digitally, but this is fun, and I can stand at the door and do hall duty while preparing to sort into groups.

Now, here is the sad news. My building had a severe black mold issue at the beginning of the year. Everything I had accumulated in my 20 years of teaching was thrown away. This included my prized sorting cards. Cards that had a lot of time and some money (for stickers and such) invested. We were remote and hybrid for much of the year so I didn’t recreate them.

A few days ago a colleague sent me a tweet from a person asking about these cards. I really thought I had shared this idea via blog post but couldn’t find it anywhere. I also have ZERO pictures of these cards. SAD SAD SAD!!! So I reached out and told the person I would make a digital version that could be personalized, printed, and laminated.


Thinking Classroom groups of 3 cards OPEN SLIDEDECK TEMPLATE

Print on a color printer (on lightweight cardstock if you can), fold in half and secure with stick glue, laminate, and sort your students. You can change out any of the images, especially the Bitmoji. Mine have a lot of math in them because I’m a math teacher. You may want to change that too. Be caution when adding food if you teach middle and high school. Google the meaning of the food before you use it. Eggplant parm might be a favorite but it will also get you some chuckles at the high school level. And beware when you google pineapple. Geesh!

image of one sorting card

If you use these cards, I would love to hear how it goes!