To divide students, try asking them to make "appointments" with each other. You can use a clock (12:00 partner, 3:00 partner, 6:00 partner, 9:00 partner) or any other object, such as a pizza. For example, when using the pizza sample (below), if someone had a blank cheese spot open, they can only schedule with a student who also has a blank cheese appointment; the toppings must match when scheduling partners.
When you are ready for students to work with their partners, all you have to say is: "Now, it's time to meet with your 'cheese partner' to discuss __________." This is an easy way to do a Think-Pair-Share.
You can use the same partner sheet over the course of a unit or change it up for each lesson. Either way, you can encourage students to meet and work with new people.
Download your own pizza template below.