I wrote this blog post to give you an idea of how I run my math block in my classroom. There is a link to a FREE Guided Math Course at the end of this post. You can get fresh ideas and more of a breakdown of running flexible groups in your classroom!

Whole Group Math:
For me, math begins with whole group instruction. This is usually a 20-30 minute lesson, where I may be introducing a new objective for the day.  Sometimes, I like to introduce the objective during whole group if the objective is a little more complicated. This saves me from having to repeat myself too much during small groups.
However, if the objective for the day is simple and straightforward, I will introduce it during small group math and spend my whole group time doing one of the following activities:

Other Whole Group Lesson Ideas:
-Sometimes I also use whole group time as an opportunity to review something I noticed a lot of students making mistakes with.
-Sometimes I create an anchor chart with my class,
-practice math vocabulary,
-do a math read aloud, 

-work on math interactive notebooks,
-solve a tricky problem together, etc... 
-Also, I might have students come to the front of the room to "be the teacher" and show the class how they solve a problem.

My whole group time really varies depending on the flow of the lessons and how well my class is doing. I like to keep my whole group time flexible.

When introducing the day's objective (whether during whole group or small group), I like to use the gradual release model. (I do, we do, you do, you do.) First I model. (I do) Then, I have students help me solve a problem. (We do) Next, students work with a group or partner on a problem. (You do) Last, students complete an independent practice. (You do) Usually the independent practice is a quick ticket out the door style problem. I use these to help me form my flexible groups, which leads me to the next part of my math block.

Guided Math/Small Group Math/Math Rotations
Call it whatever you may, this is the time of day where I meet with my students in small targeted groups. Students are busy working in all parts of my room, most of them in centers. I do not have set rotations where I ring a bell and students move to the next group after a certain amount of minutes. I have found that that does not work for me during a math block because students skill levels vary so much. Instead, there are 5 big components to my Guided Math time. (You can learn more details about this in the free course at the end of this post.)

I use targeted lesson plans that focus on a specific objective.

I can keep track of how successful my class is with each day's lesson by color coding the unit overview sheet. Save every unit overview and when its time to review for state testing, it is easy to know exactly what objectives to spend the most time reinforcing. 

1. Teacher time--I work with students in small groups (that I form based on their skill level on a certain objective) These are FLEXIBLE groups, meaning I pull students in and out of them all the time. They are not set groups. The simple reason being, a student who is great with geometry might really struggle with addition and subtraction. I use the information I gather from my students independent work in whole group math to set up my groups. During teacher time I target students to help grow them in a certain skill. 

I usually start with my middle kids...you know, the kids who are inconsistent with the objective. They kind of get it--but aren't 100% sure how or why they are solving a problem a certain way. Normally I have found that this group of kids need a little extra practice and direction from me before they are ready to try it on their own again. 

The next group I pull in are my high flyers. This is usually very brief since they have already shown mastery of a skill. I use this quick check in time to make sure that they really DO get it and are comfortable with the objective. Once I am sure of this, I give them an enrichment activity to go work on. 

The last group I pull is my group of students who are really struggling with the objective. I pull them last because I like to spend the most time supporting them. Also, by this time, if a student from my first group is still having a hard time with something, they have probably come to me for support. Now, I can add them to my last group and give them another dose of targeted instruction.

  Vocabulary and Definition cards go in pocket charts for us to reference during the lesson. I also include any posters or essential questions we'll be using that day.

I use various printables during my lesson to support students. These might be manipulatives, templates, vocabulary trifolds, posters, etc...


So, what are kids doing when they are not working with me?

2. Skill practice--This is usually a longer form of independent work that students will turn into me. It may be a practice page or some other activity that can be turned in for me to check later. Students work on this independently, at their seats and turn it in when they finish.

3. Fluency--I have limited technology in my room so students have to take turns. I like for all of my students to get their green check mark on XtraMath every day. The computers must always be in use in my classroom. As soon as one student finishes, they get another student to log on. (The only students who do not go log on are the students who are at my table. They wait until it is time for them to be working without me.) If students are done with their skill practice and have turned it in, they can also practice math fluency using a wipe off sheet they keep in their desks. This is a fact practice sheet inside a sheet protector that they write on with an expo marker. (This is always in their desks, and is an alternative to reading a book when they finish something before others.)

4. Centers--Once students have finished their skill practice, turned it in, and have completed fluency (or are waiting to complete fluency) they work in centers. I use my Common Core Math Centers and keep them in a bucket all year. Students practice these centers often and it helps keep the standards fresh in their heads all year long.

5. Extension Activities--Another option for students who have completed their skill practice and fluency is to work on extension activities. This can be a writing activity that has to do with our math objective, a puzzle, or a math game. These activities all go with the objective we are working on for the day.

 These extension activities are also a great way to spiral review throughout the entire year!
At the end of a math unit, I like to take some time to reflect. I write down my green, yellow, and red students and make any notes about the class performance as a whole. If there is something I know I need to spend time spiral reviewing the rest of the year, I make note of it here. At the bottom of the page I make notes about my teaching. If there is something my kids struggled to understand, maybe I need to spend some time looking at different ways to teach/articulate it. Also, if there is something I want to be sure to do different next year, I write it here as well. This helps me refine my teaching practice over the years. Next year, I can pull out this sheet before I teach the unit to have a better idea for how I can teach my next class.

Looking to learn more about Guided Math? Sign up for this free course and get fresh ideas for your classroom!

For more resources to use during your math block check out, 1st Grade Guided Math, 2nd Grade Guided Math, 3rd Grade Guided Math, 4th Grade Guided Math, and 5th Grade Guided Math!




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