Have you thought of starting guided math groups in your classroom, but aren't sure if it's the best thing for you? Let me try to convince you with 5 reasons why you should implement guided math groups--immediately!

Running Guided Math groups allows you to work with your students in a small group setting. Students will benefit from more one on one time with you. I have found that time working with a handful of students at a table is my favorite time of the day. It allows me to zero in on exactly what they are having difficulty with. I can differentiate my instruction for each child much more easily during this time. It's a great time to take notes about your students. You can look back at these notes later for future planning of your group time.

One big question teachers always have about guided math is, but what are the other students doing? I go more in depth with that in my guided math set up blog post which you can read here, but the main takeaway is that students are still practicing the skills! By using extension activities, practice pages, technology, and centers, your students can be practicing and reinforcing the skills they have learned all year. It is so important to keep the skills fresh in the students' minds, and guided math groups allow you the perfect chance to do this!

It's important for students to learn to work independently and be responsible for their learning. They can't expect you to think for them. If we only do whole group instruction, it can be difficult to make time for students to really try to learn and practice skills on their own. It takes time to train students to do this! I have a free 10 Day Guided Math Launch Plan in my TpT store. This can give you some help with managing your groups during the first 2 weeks that you launch it.

Collaboration is important. When you allow students to work in groups or with partners they are learning problem solving and social skills. We ALL know that students need all the help they can get with this. Sure, you may have to intervene and help every now and then, but if students never have the opportunity to practice, how can we expect them to get better?

It's fun! Students enjoy getting to practice their math skills in a hands on way! And trust me, you can do this, even without another adult in the room, even without a lot of technology, you can do it! There is nothing like looking around your classroom and seeing your students buzzing as they are working on many different skills, busy at their group or in their centers! If you invest the time teaching procedures and expectations, your groups will practically run themselves.

For more information about how I run Guided Math using flexible grouping in my classroom, check out this blog post. You can also check out my Guided Math year long bundles by following the links below.

For resources to use during your math block check out, 2nd Grade Guided Math, 3rd Grade Guided Math, 4th Grade Guided Math, and 5th Grade Guided Math!



 Getting students to grasp the concept of main idea and details can be difficult. The idea behind this activity is for students to understand what it means for details to support a main idea. When they are given the sentences to the paragraph all mixed up and out of order, it requires them to think about which of the details supports another. Are all of the other sentences about this one? Are these sentences related? What is the main idea the author is trying to tell me in this paragraph? This activity engages them in a higher order thinking task, and requires reasoning skills. You can do this activity with any paragraph of sentences by simply typing them up and giving them to students out of order. You could even write the sentences to the paragraph randomly on the board and have students recopy them as a paragraph that begins with the main idea. You can try the activity shown in the photographs for free. I also have included a response sheet so students can write and explain why one sentence is the main idea. The file also includes writing extension ideas for older students!

You can get this main idea and sentence sort for FREE by subscribing to my newsletter!

There are many uses of reading question stems in the classroom. From independent reading, to teacher directed reading, to supporting parents, these stems are very versatile.

There are many different ways you can use reading question stems in the classroom. They are a great way to make sure your students are accountable for that independent reading time.
You can cut apart the question stems and give them to students to think about as they are reading. This gives them a purpose as they are reading, instead of just flipping through a book and tossing it aside and grabbing another. Another idea is to have them at your guided reading table and use them as discussion starters.

You can also have students cut them apart, glue them in a notebook, and respond to them. They can turn their reading notebooks in to you as a form of accountability for their independent reading time. Some of the questions require a lengthier response, and it would not always be a good use of students' time to have them respond to more than one question. After all, the goal of independent reading time is for students to be reading. :) But, responding to one or two questions can be a good way for you to hold them accountable for their reading time, while also gauging their skills with a certain standard.

Teacher Directed Lessons

The reading question stems are also beneficial to you. During any read aloud, you can pull a page (or more) of question stems that pertain to the specific standard you are working on. This will help you guide your lesson and class discussion toward that skill. You can also leave a few pages of question stems along with some books in a sub bin and you are all set for that unexpected absence. 
 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/2nd-Grade-Reading-Question-Stems-3703101     https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/3rd-Grade-Reading-Question-Stems-3699737

Guided math groups can be successful in any classroom if you have strong classroom management and organization. I spend the first two weeks of school "training" my students on how to do guided math. Before launching guided math, ask yourself, do I have clear expectations in my classroom? Do I have set rotations or flexible rotations? (I recommend flexible rotations...You can learn more about how I do that in this blog post.) What do I want my students working on during math groups? How much technology is available to me? How many students can I work with at a time?
I created this ten day launch plan to help other teachers. It gives a brief synopsis of what to teach your students each day.  It is written to be used during the first two weeks of school, but it can be used whenever you are ready to launch guided math. So, if you are jumping on the guided math train a little later in the year, just modify this. 

It is truly important to spend the whole two weeks preparing your students for guided math. Invest the time now, so you will not be interrupted with problems later.  It is also important to revisit these expectations later in the year. A great time to do it is upon returning from winter break.

 Click the image above to get the FREE ten day launch plan.

To learn about how I set up Guided Math in my classroom, check out this blog post.

For resources to use during your math block check out, 2nd Grade Guided Math, 3rd Grade Guided Math, 4th Grade Guided Math, and 5th Grade Guided Math!



This Comprehension Quest™ is such a fun way for your students to learn about all things St. Patrick's Day!

What's a Comprehension Quest™?
A Comprehension Quest™ is a fun way to get students excited about practicing reading comprehension! Even reading passages! Starting off with the hook video, students learn they have a quest to complete.

The hook video comes in wmv and MP4 format so you have two options for sharing.

If you can't share either format at school, its okay! The quest is also explained on a printable quest  sheet!

In this edition, students must figure out where the leprechaun hid a pot of gold!


Students will read 6 passages and complete standards aligned reader response activities. Each passage has 2-4 options for reader response sheets. That way you can differentiate your instruction! The standards covered range from second through fifth grade.

After each activity, they will earn a clue that will get them one step closer to solving the quest.

The clues help students eliminate possible locations on their chart. After the last clue they will be left with only one location!

Once they are finished with all six passage, activities, and have figured out where the gold is, they turn in their guess to you. If they are correct, they earn a fun certificate to color while everyone finishes!

Here's a look at the topics and which passages cover each standard.

You can really have a lot of fun with a Comprehension Quest! Consider decorating your classroom for St. Patrick's Day. You can get fake gold coins and scatter them throughout your classroom. You can also get a leprechaun hat and print out the note from the leprechaun. I got some great St. Patrick's day accessories for the quest at Target in the dollar spot!

Search YouTube for "Irish and Celtic Music" and choose a video that plays like white noise in the background while your students work. The more excited you are about the quest, the more excited your students will be! They will feed off of your energy and excitement!

Check out ALL of my Comprehension Quests™ here!
A lot of people want to implement guided math in their classrooms, but aren't sure where to begin. The key to having successful guided math groups is organization. I designed the guided math units to have a gradual, scaffolded progression.

At the beginning of every unit is the unit overview. It is important to begin with the end in mind. Read over the overview. Study the post assessment. Understand what students will ultimately be expected to do. 

Here is an example of a unit overview:

It is important not to overwhelm students with too much new content at one time when teaching a lesson. The Guided Math units are designed in a way that sets students up for success. There are specific and achievable objectives for each day. There are resources for students to practice the objective, (practice pages and daily extension activities). You can use these as other "rotations" during your guided math time. 

Another great thing about the design of the units is that there is built in review time, each week! No more reviewing all concepts at the end of a unit and trying to cram for the post test. These units are designed to allow you to slow the pace or review as you see fit. This helps solidify students' foundations before moving on to more challenging skills. If you use the year long bundle of units, you will have 32 weeks of instruction. With one review day per week, your students are benefiting from an entire month of review time built in throughout the year. If you are at a traditional school with 36 weeks of instruction, you will have about 4 weeks at the end of the year to do test prep with your students.

So how do you know what to review at the end of the year? You can't review it all. There simply isn't the time! One thing to do is to color code your unit overviews. After each lesson, color in the block green, yellow, or red, to indicate how successful your students were with the lesson. When it's time to review, you will know exactly which objectives to spend your time on.

To learn about how I set up Guided Math in my classroom, check out this blog post.

For resources to use during your math block check out, 2nd Grade Guided Math, 3rd Grade Guided Math, 4th Grade Guided Math, and 5th Grade Guided Math!



outcast: a person who has been rejected by society or a social group

Sometimes its easy to identify who is being bullied or rejected in your classroom. Sometimes it happens so subtly, that even the most perceptive teacher misses it.

Rejection is a part of life. We hear this often. Kids can be mean. The real world is full of rejection. They need to develop a tough skin.

Sure, these things may be true of the world. But do they have to be true of our classrooms?

My heart is broken when I see the news of another school shooting. Everyone says why does this keep happening? What can we do to fix it?

The sad truth is, we may never be able to completely stop this from happening in our world. It may be our new normal. But, what if there is something we can do to make our classrooms better? To help that child who is feeling rejected feel a little more included?

Identify The Outcast

I read an amazing article on Reader's Digest about how a teacher identified who was lonely and who was being rejected in her classroom. Every Friday she asked her students to privately write down four people they'd like to sit by the following week. Once the students left, she studied the papers and looked for patterns. You can read the article to see what questions she asked herself when she looked at the names. She was able to use these papers to identify the outcasts in her classroom. To stop the bullies and help the bullied. You see, a lot of these things happen subtly, quietly. Some students keep their hurt feelings to themselves. Some are not so public with their bullying. As a teacher, sometimes you have to be creative to identify the outcasts in your classroom. (If you want to give this a try, check out this freebie in my store to go along with this Friday routine.)

But what do we do once we know this?

There's really no perfect answer. It depends on your students and the dynamics of your classroom. But I have a few ideas.

Find Things in Common

At the beginning of the year we do a lot of activities to help students get to know each other and to build a classroom community. Students may learn who else has a dog, who else watches a certain tv show,  who is new to the school, who has visited another state, who loves the ocean, etc... But once the school year really gets moving, these things tend to fall by the wayside and students tend to develop cliques. We get busy with the curriculum; after all, we have a lot to cover.

But what if we spent a little more time talking with our students every week? Pointing out things we have in common. Maybe the student they are picking on is not as different as they thought. Maybe they both play soccer after school.  Once you identify who is being outcasted in your classroom, you can try to help your students see things they have in common with that child.

Public Praise

Let me start by saying, this may not work for every child in the same manner. Some children are terribly shy and the thought of being singled out in front of the class is terrifying. But there is more than one way to publicly praise a child.

First of all, you can praise the child in front of the whole class. "Wow, Jenny! You were so helpful this afternoon. Thank you so much for helping me put those things away." The class takes notice of the child, and hopefully compliments them too.

Of course, this technique may not work for your classroom.  Another technique I have tried is to praise the child to a peer. When working in small groups I may see a student who is struggling with adding two digit numbers. I can offer them help of course, but sometimes a peer can explain things better. Perhaps the peer they have been isolating. "Hey, why don't you ask Jenny to show you this really neat way she solved this problem earlier? I think she might be able to explain it to you better than I can."

Another way you can praise a child to a peer is to speak highly of them to their peers. "Did you all know that Jenny went roller skating this weekend with her Dad? You have to ask her to tell  you about it. It sounded like a lot of fun." "Did you see Jenny's new shoes? Those are so cool!"

Change the Dynamics: Break Up the Cliques

Sometimes proximity is important. When you identify a clique in your classroom, it may be time to break it up. New seating arrangements can help. As a teacher, I constantly try to think of the best placement for students in the classroom.

Special Time

A teacher's time is so precious. Very limited. I understand that. But maybe there are some ways we can give students who need it just a little more of our time. What if we had a special lunch, just the outcasted child and two or three peers. What if we let them do something really fun during that time, that they will then have in common? Ex: During lunch, I let Jenny and two others come to my classroom to eat. I talked to them about what I was doing over the weekend and they shared their plans. My husband called me and I let him say hello to them. When they finished, I let them play with the projector and they pretended to play school. When we went to recess later, the girls included Jenny and talked to some other classmates about what they got to do. So teacher, ask yourself, what could you do to make some students in your class have special time together?

There is no one solution for stopping bullying or keeping any one student from being left out. But maybe if we come together and share our ideas, we can help make our classrooms a kinder place.

I would love to hear some of your ideas for helping the outcasted student in your classroom. Feel free to leave your ideas for other teachers to read in the comment section below.

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