10 Ways to Divide Your Students Into Groups

We do TONS of group work in drama class, and it’s important for students to have the opportunity to work with a variety of their peers. Working with different classmates allows students to get to know each other better, find common interests, observe different learning styles, hear new ideas, practice problem solving, and make new friends.

While it may be the most practical for the teacher to assign groups, or the most fun for students to choose their own groups, sometimes it’s amusing to mix it up and try a different or unusual way of arranging students into groups. Here are ten ways to divide your students into groups. Some of the prompts are quite basic and some are more time consuming, but novelty can keep your students intrigued and on their toes!

1. Teacher’s Choice: The teacher assigns groups, either in advance or in the moment. This is the most practical for the teacher, but the least fun for students.

2. Students’ Choice: Students choose their group members. This may lead to students only working with their friends or some students feeling left out.

3. Students’ Choice Switch: Have students form their own groups. Have one member of each group volunteer to be captain. The captains must switch groups.

4. Count Off: Have students stand in a circle. Number off each student according to the number of groups you wish to have. All 1s are a group, all 2s are a group, and so on. You may wish to mix up your counting schemes so students don’t try to reorder themselves to get into a particular group.

5. Schoolyard Pick: The teacher assigns two captains (or directors, if you want to keep it more drama class-esque). Captain A chooses a team member, followed by Captain B. Team Member A then chooses the next member, followed by Team Member B. Each newly picked team member chooses the next team member. Be sure to mix up team captains so the same people are not always picked last.

6. Height: Have students line up across the room from shortest to tallest. (Bonus points if students can do this silently.) Count off the number of group members down the line starting with the shortest student, or go from each end to have a variety of shorter and taller students together in a group.

7. Alphabetical: Have students line up across the room in alphabetical order according to first name. (Again, bonus points if they’re able to do this silently.) Amber, Benicio, Cassandra, Dave, Emil, and so on. If two or more students have the same name, use their last initial to put them in order. Count off the number of group members down the line, starting with the As.

8. Random Name Generator : Input your students’ names into a random name generator site such as Wheel of Names or Picker Wheel. Click the wheel and see what names get randomly chosen.

9. Sorting Hat : Write down students’ names on slips of paper and draw them out of a hat.

10. Playing Cards: Arrange a deck of cards to have the same number of cards as students (for example, if you have 20 students, you’ll need 4 aces, 4 twos, 4 threes, 4 fours, and 4 fives). Deal out a card to each student. Have students match up the numbers to form their groups.

At the end of class, you may wish to use the following exit slip question for students to reflect on: Share your thoughts on today’s group selection process. What did you like or dislike about it? Suggest a new or different way of dividing students into groups. 

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