Friday, January 6, 2017

Student Grouping- Boys Vs. Girls

Before break, I was in the gym most of my day, which meant I got to observe a lot of my students (and during a holiday game I may or may not have thrown a ball at a few of them who love a good power struggle).

 I noticed that most of the time the teacher divided them up into boy and girls and it made me start thinking about how I group students. Then winter break hit, and let's be honest I did not think about it much more because:

Then yesterday I saw this amazing idea from Smitten With First.

As I was reading it, I thought "ugh boys vs. girls again!"

Now let me start by saying, I LOVE this game/idea and I plan on using a version of it in my own class. For example, how fun would it be to have feeling words on the board and as I am reading a story a student could throw the ball at the word of how the character is feeling? I mean the possibilities are endless. It does not surprise me that this amazing idea came from a district teacher of year. I have such high respect for Michelle Hudgeons and the amazing work she does.

Here is why I took pause: I keep pondering the idea of boys vs. girls  as grouping for games. I have a few students that identify, or I believe is starting to, identify as another gender. I bet you have students that identify as a different gender or are starting to notice that they want to.  The research and articles about transgender students are endless, important, and relative. A recent article in the NY Times stated, that "some developmental psychologists say that children as young as 2 or 3 can express a gender identity that is at odds with one defined by the genitalia." 

So I thought about what it must be like for them when I call out boys vs. girls. I think of the "male" student that feels more comfortable with the "girls" and has told me how much "he" loves "girl things and being a girl." I wonder if they feel that twitch of desire to go with the other team. I worry that I am subconsciously creating more barriers and reinforcing stereotypes. I cringe thinking that I have made a student uncomfortable. I get angered by the sheer lack of creativity it feels like I have when grouping. 

So I started making a list of ways I could divide classes in teams:

- birthday months
- clothing color
- hair color (although having done self portraits with students for years, I am still shocked when students ask me what color hair they have).
- eye color
- those who own a dog and those that don't

Not a bad start.

 I have seen many lists on how to line up students, but when you are trying to create teams with equal number of participants (or close) on each team- how can you do it without saying boys vs. girls? 

So here's my question to you: how would you group for teams that isn't boys vs. girls?