One group became particularly frustrated with the lab grouping game today. The stares of "Would you just tell us the proper groups?"?? It was frustrating for me to be quiet and not give in. There was a long 5 minute stretch of awkwardness. Then they realized I really meant it and I said I know they can figure this out.?? One kid took the lead and started writing potential ground on the board. The class started helping out. Ambiguous words (Mercury, Washington, etc) were kept separate. In the end, they did it all in their own. I briefly talked about group IQ and about grit, frustration, and success. As painful as it was, I think I've broken through a wall and hopefully kids will persevere through future physics frustrations.
The picture represents groups by color on a seating chart. 6 groups of 3 and 2 groups of 4 (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, pink, black). It's fixed on the front of the room above the chalkboard. That way, when we switch seats and groups later on, kids will know which color lab group they are in. I tried putting labels directly on the desks, but problems arose when furniture was moved or kids vandalized them.