A few weeks ago, I wrote about a handy tool called the Random Name Picker. It’s especially helpful at the beginning of the school year, when not all students feel comfortable to volunteer on their own. It also keeps the students on their toes, since they know their turn to talk might be coming up soon.
Similarly, the Team Maker tool from Chirag Mehta is a fantastic way to quickly arrange your students into random groups for cooperative learning. You get to choose the number of groups, and this free website randomly places your students into teams.
I really like using this site, because if given the option to choose their own groups, my students always tend to work with the same people. With the Team Maker tool, students are exposed to new voices and new opportunities to cooperate and learn from each other.
I find that it’s also much faster to use this tool than to have students count off. We all know that there’s always someone who forgets their number or who conveniently finds their way into the wrong group!
A nice feature with this site is that you can copy and paste a list of names that you already have saved, so you don’t have to type in the names each time you use the Team Maker. I keep a simple text document (just use Notepad) with all my students’ names. When I want to use the Team Maker, I just open the text document, use Ctrl+A to select all, Ctrl+C to copy the list, and then use Ctrl+V to paste the names into the Team Maker.
There are some fun options for team names, beyond just Team 1, Team, 2, etc. You can use the drop-down list to select from Animals, Cars, Sports Teams, and many more themes, seen here. You can even edit the names within the list, so if you select Cars, but your students aren’t familiar with a Bugatti, you can change it to Corvette, Mustang, or maybe even old rusty station wagon!
I recommend displaying the whole process on a Promethean Board or SmartBoard. This way, students see that it truly is a random grouping, and no one is receiving special treatment. They also like seeing the team names and when time allows, they generate some fun alternatives. Plus, it’s really easy to display the names on the screen, so students can see their group name, instead of just hearing it.
You can choose the output format, including a small, scrollable preview window, a whole new browser window, or a .csv file, which you can save in Excel. I recommend the New Window option, because you can see several teams at one time, and it’s a much cleaner, clearer look.
Just click the Generate Teams button, and your groups will appear in seconds. This site is very fast, and it’s rare to ever experience a delay.
Here’s an example of what you will see if you use the New Window option. Apparently, the site’s creator was a big fan of the TV shows The Office and Mad Men, because the default names are all characters! (Imagine a team with Don Draper and Michael Scott working together!)
If you have other random team/group maker sites or electronic tools that you enjoy, please share them in the comments!