Splitting up into smaller groups

I just had a question/suggestion for facilitators. When my creative writing learning circles start a class, we’re in one large group for a whole class discussion. After that, we break up into smaller groups for different activities.

If you do something similar, how do you break up a class of strangers into groups?

What I’ve been doing is leaving it up to the class to determine who they work with, but it’s always awkward and no one really seems to know what to do or to want to move. You know, the usual.

I read an interesting tidbit on the internet the other day about a high school teacher who has all of his students take a Harry Potter Hogwarts House quiz to determine which House they belong in. He then breaks up the class into those houses and everyone gets along great and does the work because everyone within a group all work generally the same way.

I suggested this to some students and they liked it, but figured that actually grouping people by their personality wouldn’t work as well in a group of adults who should be seeing how others go about their creative processes. (plus I dislike the idea of making everyone take a quiz like that for various reasons.)

So, my next thought was that everyone would draw a House from a hat at the start of every class. So, you could be in Slytherin this week, but Ravenclaw next week. And we can group people that way, so there’s a variety, but no question of who’s sitting with whom in a room full of strangers.

Plus, I think it would be fun. Most people have read Harry Potter and would probably have some fun with it. I hope.

I was thinking this would require buying a sorting hat, you know, to make it really “official” and everything, but there’s a store on Etsy that sells really nice Harry Potter themed dice bags. I have a button maker and am planning on making buttons, minus the pin backing, with the House crests. These can be kept in the dice bag, and people can draw from the bag. It’s not as fun as it would be with a sorting hat, but it is more practical. lol.

Anyway, this is my thought on how I will do this. It will work great for us especially because my classes are about creative writing, but it could work for others too.

And if this doesn’t suit you, how do you split people into smaller groups, if you do? I’m curious to see what others do.