Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chapter 5- Using Guided Math with Small Groups (FREEBIE)

How funny/ cute/ embarrassing is it to look back and see your own writing. I'm enjoying it, of course, but sometimes I think "Really? I wrote that? Hmmmm."

Each new chapter opens my eyes to new possibilities for my math program and I am especially happy to be ready it in conjunction with the Guiding Readers book study because my minds is continually working around the idea of guided teaching!  Look out, September. It's going to be awesome.

In other Guided Math Book Study news....Laney Sammons commented on my Chapter 3- Math Stretches post. 
Oh. My. Goodness. 

I just about fell out off my chair with excitement. 

Just like always, you will find my original thoughts about Guided Math in pink and italics at the bottom of this post.

I've decided to put all my current thoughts in one spot at the top of the post using the headings provided by Amanda from The Primary Gal. 

Such an interesting question!

I have noticed that in the last 2 years since I started using much of the guided math framework and strategies that not only are my students able to "get" the math we are studying more quickly, but that I am able to identify their greatest areas of need quickly.


I almost never schedule math groups, and by that I mean my groupings are decided on the fly as I see the needs arise. As my students are working through a math problem solving task (where I do strategically partner or group students) I walk around the room taking anecdotal records and questioning/prompting my students. based on what I see/ hear I put a symbol on my student's work, make a note on my records or provide a coloured sticky note.

When I am ready to call groups I use the symbols/ notes/ sticky notes to group the students. 

So if I see a group of students starting to do their 3-digit addition in the hundreds column (ouch, hurts my teacher's heart...poor little muffins) they will all get a blue star on their page. When I call the blue star group to the carpet we can work more with base ten blocks, place value and specific regrouping while adding so they can improve and grow as mathematicians. 

The one thing I find with this method is that I need to be super aware of what my students are doing during their problem solving tasks. 

This is where strategic partnering and grouping is a must and I need to be constantly circulating and talking to my students.

The teacher also need to be on top of the curriculum they are teaching and be as knowledgable of the possible misconceptions that may arise during student work as well opportunities to challenge students who are already well on their way to mastery.

I can't say that I never plan my math groups either- that would be a lie. 

But with my teaching style and in my experience of using problem based learning and math huddles, grouping students based on what I see during a math task is working for me!

See above!! 

I also really enjoy doing diagnostic tasks with my students- talking pictures (see here,  here and here), quick pencil paper tasks, word splashes, group problem solving, etc.

This is a great way to gain data on what students can do on paper for a particular math concept. 

I also enjoy having a class discussion and creating an anchor chart (this is a literacy example but you get the idea) on what we know before starting the unit and then adding to it as we grow. 

I'd love to know more about how you group your students for guided math!

My Standout Moments:

- I love this quote from page 133;

" When kids are given time to puzzle through something that's challenging (with just enough support from their teachers to be successful), they're not only learning about the task at hand, they're learning about who they are and how they go about figuring things out. They're developing those can-do, let-me-have-at-it attitudes that we want so much for them."

Advantages of Small Groups:

- focused lessons

- easy to manage materials
- conversation is open and flowing
- student efforts are monitored in a timely manner
- teachers have the opportunity to recognize the learning styles of their students and can adjust their teaching
- frequency of meeting and length of meeting can vary according to student needs
- planning is customized (differentiated)
- communication becomes an integral part of instruction and learning (explicit teaching, modelling, questioning, listening)
- the social nature of learning is respected and supported
- continuing ongoing assessment (anecdotals)


- some things need to be taught to everyone

- planning can feel overwhelming
- keeping the rest of the class engaged in meaningful to do it?
- each student receives less direct instruction (!)
- expectations, routines, procedures need to be modelled and practiced, practiced, practiced

When to teach using small groups:

- differentiation (ESL/ELL, Special Needs, Gifted)

- mathematical "hot spots" (concepts students struggle with year after year)
- manipulatives
- formative assessment tasks/activities
- mathematical process standards

Forming Small Groups:

- there are many different ways to form small groups, but for me the most important thing to remember is that groups should flexible and based on student achievement

- this is where formative assessment, observations and anecdotals become very important

As I was reading through this chapter I wanted to create a lesson plan template for my future guided math lessons. As with anything, I won't know if I actually like this template until I start using it but at least it is a start. Plus, it's a freebie here for you! Just click on the image below to get your copy. (The font used is from Sugar Frog Fonts- Chaney)

I am thinking that I would like to add a spot for a Must Do, similar to what Lori Jamison Rob does for guided reading...something in their Math Journal, a problem to solve, etc. 


8 Brilliant Teaching Thoughts:

Jennifer Tilton said...

I did math groups last year and I loved it! I could take my advanced group farther and help my low group catch up!
This was a great post!

Greg said...

Thanks for this very useful freebie!!

I am your newest follower! I hope you'll check out my new "manly" blog!

Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten

Kristen said...

oh I am so behind in everything!! I am fascinated by everything you've been talking about. I'm off to get the book on Amazon so I can read and follow along with you!!!

Brenda said...

I like your idea of adding a must do. Hmm---I'll have to think about that....

Primary Inspired

Sarah Paul said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this. I'm really thinking of doing more small group guided instruction for math this year. I tend to shy away from doing it as much as I should. Thank you for the planning sheet!
Sarah's First Grade Snippets

Nicki said...

I love your blog and just gave you an award! Check it out at

Beth said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting! I'm glad that everyone is enjoying this book study, isn't it a great read!!??

@Greg- a manly blog...I will be there for sure!

nikki8 said...

I'm following both book studies like you are. And I love the idea of incorporating the "must do's" into guided math. Good thinking.

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