I use this system in my classroom to support my efforts to “effectively group students for learning” as taught in The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano. I might use groups for warm-up: “Go tell the members of your Triad Group two things you already know about ________.” I might use them in the middle of a lesson or at the end for guided practice: “Find your Dyad partner and work in your Dyad spot to practice this skill together.” (With task cards, of course.) Or I might use the groupings at the end for quick Think/Pair/Share reflection with the added benefit of movement.
According to Marzano, “Students should be grouped in a manner that most efficiently accomplishes the outcome of the activity.” This can mean grouping heterogeneously, homogeneously, randomly, or ability grouping (by reading or achievement levels). If you work carefully, you can actually accomplish all four manners of grouping with these cards. First, decide what size you’d like your homogeneous or ability groups. Groups of five would be by card color. Four by card number, three by letter, and two by shape. Label those cards with student names. The heterogeneous and random groups will take care of themselves.
Marzano’s Design Question 6, Element 4 encourages teachers to establish classroom routines. Decide what your expectations for transitioning in and out of groups are, communicate those expectations AND practice together. When you introduce the cards, offer children the opportunity to practice three things: finding their groups efficiently, finding their work place efficiently, and ending the group session/returning to seats efficiently.
Please let me know how you decide to use the cards, and how they work for you. Personally, I’ve been teaching for a very long time, and I LOVE the quick state change moving seamlessly in and out of these groups provides.
Teaching’s a Joy!