The following is a Global Math Department Newsletter write up.  This one didn’t get make the deadline for the newsletter because I sent it out late, but is a good read.

Perseverance is an important word this time of year, especially when classroom innovations that you began in September have come apart.  In “Grouping Tagline” Gregory Taylor (@mathtans) saw his experiment in visible random groupings come apart when he rolled it out in the fall, but he stuck with it as the new semester started and his perseverance paid off with a functional system for his classroom.  In visual random grouping students are encouraged to sit in random groupings as a way to facilitate the problem solving process as described in a presentation from the Canadian Mathematics Educator Forum last May by Peter Liljedahl (here’s the ppt from the presentation).  This meant putting students in random groups of 3 at the start of each period.
The Randomly Grouped Classroom

The Randomly Grouped Classroom

While he admits that his attempt at visual random groupings in the fall had “completely fell apart by November,” Gregory thoughtfully breaks down reasons why it didn’t work, and what changes he made when the semester started in February.   Initially the students were given random numbers every day, and this was problematic for a number of reasons.  What if a students needed to sit close to the board?  How do you get the numbers back to redistribute for the next class?  What happens when students get exhausted with all of the moving around?
After thinking about the failure from the fall Gergory came up with a new plan for success in the spring.  The students made individual name tags that were easy for them to find, and designated for Gregory which students needed to sit in the front.    Each class was different so there was no need to redistribute like there were with numbers, and by using this system every other day students don’t get exhausted.  This post was a great example of the kinds of perseverance required to find classroom with success with new innovations.