Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Group Work Wednesday: Group Names

I have always used Popsicle sticks when I wanted to randomly call on a student.  I love the sticks because it helps keep students engaged when we are discussing problems as a whole group or small groups. 
 The tins are from Target - love the dollar bins!

When I started focusing on improving group work I realized I needed my groups to feel more like a team.  I figured if my groups felt more like teams, they be would more supportive of each other and focus on the greater good of the group rather than themselves.  One day I passed out a survey to students to see if they could come with good math related names. 

Although I got some very "interesting" names I decided to go with the vocabulary words students were pulling straight from the glossary of their textbook.  The other questions asked will be elaborated on in other posts :).

Once I had my names I made signs to hang from the ceiling. I had seen other teachers' classrooms who had used foam sheets to hang vocabulary words and decided to do the same.

I am CRAZY about my letters so of course I had to use stencils to make sure each letter was perfect.
After all of my letters were cut out I used my glue gun (one of my favorite inventions) to glue the letters together.  I punched a hole in the top letter and hung the names by fishing/clear wire.

The Coordinates

The Patterns
The Equations
The Variables

The Exponents
The Functions
The Integers

I love my signs! I love being able to call "the integers" to explain a problem or compliment "the variables" on how well they worked together.  Because my Popsicle sticks only call individuals I also created Popsicle sticks for my groups. 
These sticks also help me dismiss students by tables when the bell rings.  I use to pull students names and everyone at their table would be dismissed.  That worked until the same table was being called over and over again. 

Although my room may look more "elementary" or cute to other teachers with the hanging words, I personally think the group names just keep my days running just a little more smoothly. :)


  1. I love this idea! I am always looking for ways to incorporate more vocabulary into my classroom. My Word Wall was a dud this year because I underestimated how much work it would be to constantly update it! Maybe I can try this instead. I just found your blog and I love it! I teach fifth grade math and science and I'm so excited to find other upper grade bloggers!

  2. Thanks Miss P! I am so glad you found me! I have a hard time with vocab too. I do a small word wall that I switch out with every book(CMP). Not the best to take old words away but I don't really have the space for all of the words we use! I have a couple of other math vocab strategies that I will share in the future.. stay tuned!

  3. I love the group names. I teach 8th grade and do a lot of group work. This is so much more creative than groups 1, 2, 3, etc or groups A, B, C, etc. I am going to have to try this.