Math = Love: Group Role Name Badges and Posters

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Group Role Name Badges and Posters

A few years ago, I created a set of group role posters for my classroom.  These were inspired by Ilana Horn's Strength in Numbers (affiliate link).      

Sadly, I have to admit that I hung them in my classroom that year and NEVER once used them.  I wanted to do group work, but I chickened out.  Instead, I chose to do what came easily to me as a teacher even though I knew that group work had great benefits and offered my students something that individual work couldn't. 

Fast forward to this summer.  Erin Flotte recommended that I read Elizabeth G. Cohen's Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom (affiliate link to 2nd Edition / 3rd Edition).  I read the 2nd Edition of the book since it was waaaaaaaaaayyy cheaper on Amazon.  And, it totally changed my mindset about using group work in my classroom.   

When I had read Ilana Horn's Strength In Numbers, I had no clue what "complex instruction" was, and the concept really just went over my head.  Reading Designing Groupwork took me on a step-by-step journey through understanding what needs to happen to make group work effective.  As I read it, I couldn't help but think back to Strength In Numbers and how what I'd read in it now made so much more sense.  

One of the points Cohen makes in Designing Groupwork is that for group roles to be an effective tool, each person in the group must be able to tell what roles the other people in the group are supposed to be playing.  If group roles aren't easily visible to the other members of the group, it is too easy for a student to just sit there and not play their role.  

Immediately, my mind started trying to come up with an idea of how to make which role each group member was playing visible to both the members in the group and myself as I circulate amongst the groups.  

I decided to do this by making name badges for the students to wear that have their role printed on them.  I went on Amazon and bought a set of 50 name badges (affiliate link).  I only needed around 24, but I thought I might find another use for them in the future.  Or, Shaun might also want to make a set.  When I was at Wal-Mart the other day, I found that you could buy 12 name badges (just the plastic part) for around $2.  The set of 50 I bought on Amazon was $8.90, but as of the time I'm posting this, they are $8.53.  Depending on how many you need, will probably determine how/where you should buy them.  

The first ones I printed were just on white copy paper.  I made up this template:

All I needed to do was cut .5 inches from each side of the paper, fold the paper in half, and cut into the four separate badges.  

The front of each badge tells what role a student is playing.  The back of each badge reminds students what their role entails.  I've rewritten these from my original posters so they tell students what they should be doing.  For example, "Get YOUR team off to a quick start."  

Then, I had the idea that I could color code the badges so I could see from across the room what role each student was supposed to be playing.  

Here's what the color-coded version looked like before I folded them and put the in the badges.  

In order to color code the badges, I had to modify my template so that each role was on it's own separate page like this:

And, here they are in the badges!

One of the tricks I learned from the Tulsa Math Teachers' Circle is to put the string from your badge inside the plastic part when you're not wearing it.  This keeps the badges from getting all tangled up.

Since the plastic is translucent, it's kinda hard to tell that the strings are stuff inside the plastic, though.

 Another thing I did was put a dot of hot glue on the ends of the string to keep them from slipping out when the badges weren't being worn.  It took a few minutes, but it's going to save me MUCH frustration the rest of the year!  

To help me remember which color stands for which role, I redid my group work role posters in the exact same colors.


You can find the files for both the posters and the badges here.  The fonts for these are Wellfleet and Open Sans Light.  I look forward to reporting back to you on how these work with my students!    


  1. I love the idea of the color coded name tags. Thank you for sharing! I'm getting many great ideas from your blog that I'm excited to try this year. This is an awesome resource and I appreciate the time you must put into it. Thank you!

  2. I love the idea of the color coded name tags. Thank you for sharing! I'm getting many great ideas from your blog that I'm excited to try this year. This is an awesome resource and I appreciate the time you must put into it. Thank you!

  3. I am going to try and print mine front to back to avoid having to fold them. Thanks for the awesome idea! Even my honors students forget what their rolls are and this is a great way to check in on them at a glance :)

  4. Wow. I like all these posters. These are really creative and remind me my school days where I also tried some posters of new designs to make study fun and easy. Nowadays I like to design creative adshel posters in Brisbane for my business advertisement.