Birch School : Maker Rings

Sharing the Story of "Students supporting Students to MAKE their best work"

Forming Student Maker Rings: Grouping kids with their input

Forming Student Maker Rings

This approach is derived from Tribes Learning Community.


We want students to feel that they are respected and included in the processes they engage in. In order for them to feel a part of this process we ask students to name others they feel they can work well with so that effective learning groups are established that aren’t teacher identified.


Participants, index cards and writing utensils.

Pass out index cards and explain to students that they will be identifying working groups. Describe the purpose of the groupings so that students can consider peers who may help them meet the goals of the groups. Different students have different relationships with each other, so their choices of work-mates might vary according to the tasks they will be asked to complete.

Have students write their names on the top of the index card, Ask students to think of 2 or 3 (depending on the size of your group) students whom they feel they work well with. Have them write these names down on the index card. Also ask students to write a sentence or two about why they think this person would be a good partner for them for this task. Collect these cards and let students know that you will announce the groups the next time you meet.

Then, later, out of sight of students sort the cards. You will need a large table or desk space so you can spread out the cards. Begin to sort them out by grouping students who asked to work together. You can then distribute cards to the piles based on the request of the rest of the piles. There is room for adjustments, so play around with the piles. If you find that one or two students were not requested by classmates you can identify one of the students on their card and begin there. After you have approximately even groups copy the names onto a list, and then reshuffle the cards.

Start over. This time you may find that your piles consist of entirely different groupings. It is surprising how many different arrangements you can come up with. Repeat as above, by copying your groups and looking at the lists. At this point it is often helpful to get the opinion of another teacher or mentor, and look at the various groupings and see which ones might work best.

Admin • August 31, 2017

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