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Starting Math Groups

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I hear from a lot of teachers that they struggle with doing guided math groups.  I LOVE the way my math time runs so I'm going to share with you how I start it.  I have 3 groups (1 per grade level) so I have 3 stations. 
1. Teacher Time (math lesson)
2. Seat Work (independent practice from the math lesson)
3. Game (any sort of activity to work on the current or previous skills)

To get started, you will want to grab my free first week math stations which are on my facebook page.  You will also want to have some games that go along with your first unit and maybe some fact games.

I start math rotations on day 1.  (I take a lot longer to introduce ELA centers).  The first day my students go through 3 rotations of all game like activities.  We begin by talking about staying in your station spot and working the whole time.  We have already talked about being kind and working together earlier in the day.  The talk is quick.

Then I explain each station:
1. Pattern Blocks: "Use the blocks in this bin to make these pictures."

2. Counting Bears: "Use these cards to make a pattern.  Let's look at this one.  The card has the bears in this order: Red, yellow, red, yellow, red...what comes next?  what comes after that?  Perfect!  Copy the pattern and then see how long you can make it!"

3. Snap Cube Counting: "Grab a number card and build a tower with that many cubes." Then I hold up a number and ask what it is and make a tower with that # of cubes.

These are quick and simple enough for young students but still engaging enough for my older students. 

While they do the stations, I walk around and praise them for all good behaviors I see.

Day 2 I add in seat work.  Again, we discuss working the whole time & what to do if you finish early.  I also tell them that I expect them to work quietly.  I show them where the manipulatives are so they can get what they need.  The first seat work tasks are simple like this:
Name In a Ten Frame: first day?
(Click to go to the site)
I also throw in a fact assessment within the first few days.  Again, while they work, I walk around a praise good behavior.  I also go over things I see that we need to correct.  We still do 3 rotations so the kids do 2 games and a seat work activity. I do this again for another day or 2.

On day 4 or 5 (or 6 whenever the kids can play a game and do seat work successfully), I add in the teacher time.  My first session with them is going over expectations for our lesson time.  Th next few sessions, I introduce new math games for the students to use.  Adding new math games quickly gives them a bigger variety of games to play and therefore reduces behavior problems.

If you need 4 groups, add a math fact station.  I would introduce the stations the same way but just adding a day or 2 for this station.

I hope this helps some of you who have wanted to try guided math! If you ever have questions, leave them in the comments or email me!  Those of you that do math groups, what advice would you add or what would you do differently?
1 comment on "Starting Math Groups"
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