Thursday, July 14, 2016

Guided Math Set Up

For me, math begins with whole group instruction. This is usually a 20-30 minute lesson, introducing a new objective for the day. I like to use the gradual release model when teaching whole group. (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 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. 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.

I use targeted lesson plans that focus on a specific objective.
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 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 a variety of hands on tools to help students with the standards.

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.

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 enrichment 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.


For more resources to use during your math block check out my newest products, 3rd Grade Guided Math and 4th Grade Guided Math!


  1. WOW! I just stumbled on your blog from Pinterest. I LOVE this bundle!! I have it in my shopping cart now. I am your new follower. Great resources!

    1. Thanks so much Stephanie! I hope you enjoy it!

  2. This product has been heaven on earth! The organization of the units, the activities, the lesson plans...ALL OF IT, I love! You are creating wonderful products. Keep up the great work!

  3. Hi Cassandra, I am looking for a new way to run my math time (yours is close to mine but a little different, and I'm thinking that maybe the change I need), and I was wondering how long is your entire math block? I'm trying to figure out what my timing would look like compared to the model you've outlined. Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Jennifer. I have 90 minutes for my math block. 20-30 spent on the whole group lesson and the remainder of time is spent in small groups doing guided math. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. This is the BEST math pack I have seen. I'm so glad you have a 4th grade one! It is in my cart! I also LOVE all of you parent helpers and especially that they are in Spanish too!

  5. Tell me more about the "parent helpers" in Spanish, please! Thinking about buying your bundle! Thank you. :-)

    1. Hi Michelle! Parent helpers explain common core to parents. You can check them out here:
      Let me know if you have any other questions!