We have to be aware that different partners can provide very different experiences for children.
It is our job to make sure students are able to hear many ideas from many sides each day. Since we want our students to talk through their learning with others and experience many different view-points, we need to provide them opportunities to do just that.
Once the students have been instructed and they have had practice with sorting sticks, they are truly able to have random groupings throughout the day (without having to give much (if any) instruction). These teacher-created sticks work to sort students in up to 8 ways, by just simply grabbing one stick. Every student gets one stick per day and that is how I call groups for different activities throughout the day.
But... This isn't as complicated as it may sound! All I had to do was show my students how to utilize them! It was so easy to start implementing this strategy!
Note: I could not buy these sorting sticks; I had to make them myself!
I tried to make it as easy as possible, though! I have included instructions, images and an easy-to-follow directive guide! I hope making them is a breeze for everyone else who wants to try them, and that they are cutesy like me and make them match their classroom!
Even though you need directions to make these, I PROMISE they are easy for the kids to use once they get used to the procedure! (I would do this in the first month of school!)
Attached is the directive guide on how many to make the sticks, and what exactly to use for each set of sorting sticks (based on your class size).
This attachment will let you know the numbers of what you need to purchase of the following!
The materials you need are:
- Large popsicle sticks (colored or plain)-- if you get plain, you will need cheap paint to paint them
- Foam stickers of letters, numbers and different shapes
* I use foam stickers because they are easy to peel off and replace. Once I decide my students know what is on their sticks really well, I peel them off and replace them with something else. For example, if I have been using triangles, squares, circles and rectangles, but my students have really all mastered those, I could replace them with trapezoids, rhombuses, parallelograms and hexagons.
"Today, we are going to learn a little bit about a tool we are going to be using each day in our classroom! We are going to learn how to use our sorting sticks! They are called sorting sticks because they help us sort ourselves into groups! So, once we know how to use them, we will be able to sort ourselves into groups in different ways. If you are ready to learn a little about our sorting sticks, say 'I am ready to learn about sorting sticks.'"
(Students will say, "I am ready to learn about sorting sticks!")
"Great! Wait... I forgot... What are we learning about.....?"
(Students will say, "We are learning about sorting sticks!")
"Oh! Yes! We are going to learn how to use our sorting sticks! That's going to be so much fun for us each day... let's get started!
Hold up a sorting stick. "This is a sorting stick! Whenever I say, go get a sorting stick, this is what you will be looking for! Now, our sorting sticks have many parts. Right now, we are only going to learn about 4. There are many ways to sort with our sticks, but right now, we are going to get really good at sorting in 4 ways. Right now, how many ways are we going to learn to sort?"
(Students will say, "We are going to learn to sort in 4 ways.")
"Yes! Great job! We are going to learn to sort using our color (POINT), our number (POINT), our letter (POINT) and our shape (POINT)." Repeat and point again: "color..... number..... letter..... and shape! That means, today, we have four ways we are going to be able to sort!
How many ways are we going to be able to sort today?"
(Students will say, "We are going to learn to sort 4 ways.")
"Yes! 4 ways! Let me show them to you!"
Keep your stick help up.
POINT "One way we can sort is by color. If we sort by color, this one is _____. To sort by color, we simply look at our sticks!
POINT "Another way we sort is by number! If we sort by number, this one is _____. To sort by number, we look at the TOP of our stick..... Where do I find the number?"
(Students will say, "We find the number at the TOP of our stick.")
"Great!" POINT "Another way we sort is by letter! If we sort by letter, this one is _____. To sort by letter, we look in the MIDDLE of our stick..... Where do I find the letter?"
(Students will say, "We find the number in the MIDDLE of our stick.")
"Great job again!" POINT "The last way we will learn about today is when we sort is by shape! If we sort by shape, this one is _____. To sort by shape, we look at the BOTTOM of our stick..... Where do I find the shape?"
(Students will say, "We find the shape at the BOTTOM of our stick.")
"WOW! It sounds like you guys can see every part of the stick! That's great! Now, I want you to go and get one and bring it to the carpet with you! When you get back, tell one partner your color, number, letter and shape! When you get back, tell ONE partner your color... number... letter... and shape! Go ahead."
***As students go get their sticks, put sticky notes or paper either on the floor or on tables. I like to use some for each (see images). I WOULD ONLY DO TWO EXAMPLES HERE since this is the first experience with these tools. (I would do color and number.)
Here is a picture of students keeping their sorting sticks on their nametags for use throughout the day
Once students have told a partner their sorting pieces on their stick, this is the time where you should set expectations for use. This is where I would tell my students:
"We get a stick as soon as we come in for the day. Before I start my work, I am going to get a stick and place it on my nametag. Once I do that, I look and see my color, number, letter and shape and I try my hardest to remember it. I am going to leave my stick still on my nametag ALL day. If we are getting into groups and I cannot remember my color or number or something, then I can always go look... but TRY to remember!"
Now that students know how to use their sticks, send them back to their seats to set their sticks down. Once they have done so, tell them to stand behind their chairs so they can still see their sticks. Then, give directions for sorting!
I would, for example, say, "The colors are on the floor... Go find your color and sit by it." Of course, you will have to help them this first time, but they will get used to it (I promise). Once everyone is in the right place with their stick's color, give them praise! Let them introduce themselves for the day... Then send them back to their seats to stand behind them again.
Then, you could say, "The numbers are on the tables. Go find your number and sit by it." Once again, you will have to help this first time, but they will indeed get used to it! Let them introduce themselves for the day here... Then send them back to their places on the carpet!
(^ASSESS THEIR CORRECTNESS AND QUICKNESS^)
SUMMARY AND CLOSURE:
Once students are back on the carpet, point out to them that they are going to be going to these groups again later in the day and remind them that they are supposed to try to remember what is on their sticks! Also, point out to them that their color group was different than their number group and that every day, your groups will change. Tell them, "This is good because different people have different ideas and know different things. It's good to talk to different people throughout the day!")
*Don't forget here: you need to have them sort by these sticks (using the two methods they just practiced) throughout this day a lot, so they get used to it!
Here, I like to hang up my sorting sticks reference chart so that the students and I will all be able to see and use it!