IDEA #1: ASSIGNING GROUP ROLES
During quick investigations that require students to experiment with materials and collect data, I have found that assigning very specific jobs to each member is very useful. Each team is given the supplies they need and then they must complete the investigation within the allotted time. In order to do so, they really MUST focus on their own job since the whole team is depending on them. I begin by assigning each student a color by passing out small items (usually unifix cubes) to the group. After they have their color, I display the roles on the board using the color coding labels.
IDEA #2: IDENTIFYING TEAM PROTOTYPES
One activity I have students complete each year is to construct a prototype for a structure that will keep an ice cube from melting by reducing the amount of heat transfer by conduction, convection, and radiation. Since I have four classes and they are all testing their device on the same day, I need a way to keep track of which pieces belong to each group in each homeroom. Color coding labels to the rescue!
here.) So I simply write STEM team numbers onto colored labels and students place them on their finished structure. This is SOOOOOO much simpler and faster than trying to remember team or student names in the midst of collecting a lot of time sensitive data.
IDEA #3: LABELING SUPPLIES FOR RE-USE
With four classes each day completing the same experiments, I often have to have supplies pre-sorted for each group. That's a lot of work unless you have a method for keeping track of everything. (Which I do.) Color coding labels...again. For small items, I simply use clean plastic cups (these are from individual serving applesauce cups) and attach labels to the bottom of the containers. I use the same cups during each class to distribute and to collect the materials.
There are so many other uses for this one little office supply. I actually shared seven more ideas at Classroom Tested Resources. If you're interested you can read about them here.