Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

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Alice Keeler

Google Sheets: Sort Names Randomly

Google Sheets: Sort Names Randomly

randomize range

Use Randomize Range

It seems there is a new trick in Google Sheets. When you highlight a range and right click you can choose “Randomize range.” This sorts the selected range in a random order. I used to have to insert a column, type the formula =rand() and then sort by the random number and then delete the random numbers. Clearly, this is a lot easier.

Choose a Student

I often times will use a spreadsheet to randomly select a student. If you have a roster of the students’ names, you can right click and choose “Randomize range.” A students name will float to the top. Randomize range

Data Menu

You can also find “Randomize range” in the Data menu.
Randomize Range

Assign Peer Evaluation

When I want students to peer evaluate each other’s work I will usually use a spreadsheet and indicate whose work they are going to look at.
Roster of student names and eval columns

I have a roster of students in column A. Column B, C and D indicate who they are going to peer evaluate. Copy and paste the roster into the columns indicating peer evaluation.
Paste Range of student names

For column B, highlight the range of student names and sort randomly.
Randomize Range

Do the same with the names in column C and D. You have to do each range of names separately.

Check for Errors

Since the names are randomly sorted it is possible for a student to be assigned to themselves or for a student to be assigned to the same project twice.
Check for errors

Control X

Control X cuts out the students name and copies it to the clipboard. What I will do is click on the duplicate name and use Control X.
Control X

My system is to rearrange some of the boo boo’s. I need to Control X remove a duplicate and Control V paste it to assign to another student.
ISwap Names

I will usually swap two kids names to make sure I don’t accidentally remove someone from getting their project reviewed. The problem is if I paste (Control V) the student’s name to another student I accidentally delete the name I am swapping. Instead, I paste the name in the column to the right so I can swap student projects.

Uh For Real?

Control X is awesome. I use it a lot. Allows me to move things around the spreadsheet. However, this system of manually looking for fixing up the peer evaluation spreadsheet is tedious and there is a high likelihood I will make a mistake. There are multiple possible solutions for using a formula to check for duplicates.


In the blank column to the right type the formula =COUNTUNIQUE( and highlight the row of names. This will count up how many unique values there are. In my example, I am expecting there to be 4 unique values. Anything less than 4 has a problem.
Count Unique

I highlighted Column E and right clicked to choose “Conditional formatting.” Choosing to format the cells if they are less than 4 highlights the values I need to pay attention to. I still use the Control X method of rearranging the duplicates manually.
Conditional formatting less than 4






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