How do you group students?
I try to mix this up. Sometimes students are in assigned groups. When I am assessing I will group students alphabetically so I can record scores quicker. When I am assigning students to teams, and I want the teams to be evenly skilled, I meet the students at the door and hand jerseys to them as they walk in while making sure my highest and lowest skilled students are distributed evenly. Please never ever have team captains pick teams. When people find out I am a PE teacher they always want to tell me a horror story relating to team captains or dodge ball! Captains picking a team is not a way to build student responsibility!
When we just need two large groups I sometimes ask students to pick a partner, then divide partners ie..taller partner put on red jersey, or partner with the darkest shirt or biggest feet… This works well because students with similar skill level will often pick each other for partners, then when they are on opposite teams the teams are evenly skilled.
I try to always let students choose their partners. These simple guidelines work well for partnering.
1. You must say “yes, thankyou!” to the first person who asks you. The only exception to this rule is if last time you worked with this person you got in trouble, you can say “I think I better partner with someone with whom I won’t get in trouble.”
2. If you have already committed to someone, you say “I already have a partner, sorry, maybe next time.”
3. Everyone needs to be asking other students to be their partner until they find someone.
4. If there is an odd number I will partner with a student or let the student ask a partnership to make a group of three.
5. You may not have the same partner twice in one class period, and we switch partners often.
How does it work? Great. We practice often. I have students switch partners continuously so they don’t feel “locked in” with someone. I monitor partner choosing so students don’t get their feelings hurt. If I have a student who is regularly left out I will meet with them privately and we discuss what might be happening and develop strategies to improve their skills (cooperation skills, friendship skills, asking to join in skills)
Try setting down some guidelines for picking partners, spend 6 minutes playing simple partner games switching partners every 1-2 minutes. See if your students can handle it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised! Let me know how it goes! Maybe this is something with which you have had great success, share with us how you set the students up for success!