At the beginning of the year, each child’s laminated name is placed in a colourful, attractive box. If I need people to do a job, a name can be picked; if I need people to answer questions, again, a name is picked. All children know they will be asked a question in Mental Maths because they see the Blue Box there ready. I pick partners/groups out of it for work in the ICT Suite or mixed-ability group tasks in other areas.
It’s very useful, as children see it as a ‘random’ method of picking (which it almost always is…); it worked very well with children who found taking it in turns difficult because they knew their name was in there, so learnt that eventually they would be picked out. Children can also pick their own partners from the box (then it’s their fault, not mine!).
The children in my class are very used to this method of being organised and do not fuss about who they work with anymore – it’s almost always guaranteed to be different the next time their name’s picked from the box. Also useful when supply teachers are in that don’t know the children’s names.
D. Harris says, “This idea is an extremely useful tool in my classroom also. Instead of a particular box, I bought a single-sized serving cereal box of Golden Grahams. I label popsicle sticks with each child’s name. Throughout our morning meeting, I choose different “Golden Grahams” from the box. They love it! I start with the popsicle sticks being bound with a rubber band. When they have had their turn, I take it out and place it in the box.”
Mr P says, “A couple of teachers use the popsicle stick idea in my school too! But we call them different things – I have a Jar of Wisdom, whilst a colleague has the Sticks of Destiny. In my jar, I have multi-coloured sticks with all the children’s names on blank sticks, table numbers on orange, colour groups on purple and seat numbers on yellow. This works for sending the class out, choosing tables, lining up, individual children for jobs, answering questions, being on etc. – I just choose from the jar. For an extra random element, I have five tables with six seats. Each seat is a number between 1 and 6. So I choose a number from the jar, and the children in that seat on each table get to go. This works for choosing the day’s table monitors too.”