Sunday, June 5, 2011

Guided Math: Part 2

How do I Group & What's My Schedule?

How do I Group?
Figuring out how to group your students is one of the more difficult tasks of guided math.  It took me a long time {practically all year} to find what worked for me.  What works for me may not work for you.  We are all different, our teaching styles are different, and our students are different.  I wanted a way to group my students so they could change groups.  I wanted them to be able to 'move up' once they mastered a particular skill, and I didn't want them with the same kiddos every time.  How could I do this and how will it work?

Every Friday I give a short {no more than 10 questions} weekly assessment.  This assessment has some things we have already introduced in class and some things we will introduce the following week.    

What it is:
o different every week
o quick
o used for the following week's instruction
o standards-based questions
o easy to grade
o used to drive instruction

What it isn't:
o an assessment that should take longer than 10 minutes
o the same standard asked 10 different ways
o end of the unit test/quiz
o something that will never be looked at
o summative

So every Friday my students complete this assessment.  I then {quickly} highlight the questions the students got incorrect.  I then take that information to help me form my groups for the following week.  The great thing about my schedule {which we'll talk about later in this post} is that I have Friday & Monday to grade these assessments and put the kiddos in groups.  Depending on how a students does depends on the group he/she will be in the following week.  My groups do not stay the same every week.  I try to already have the groups posted on Monday so the kiddos will know what group they will be in for Tuesday {our 1st day of guided math}.  Again, I will post pictures when I get back in my classroom.  The picture below is a photo {and link for printing} of my groups poster.  This is where I write the students' names for which group they will be in.  Since I have two math classes I have two of these posters {one for each class} posted in my room.  *Please note that sometimes I have 3 groups and sometimes I have 4 groups.  Last year I had 3 groups in one math class and 4 in my other math class.  I'm not sure what my classes will be like this upcoming school year.  If you would like me to make a poster for a different number of groups let me know :)
During our guided math, we review some problems from the assessment {the ones they missed} and do more examples.  Also, I do not do a lot of talking during this time.  I let students lead discussion and guided the group.  It's amazing what these kiddos can do with just a little guidance.  When school starts back, I'm so looking forward to actually recording one of these sessions for you to watch.

What's My Schedule?
Okay, so guided math will definitely put you on a tight schedule!  I'm constantly looking at my watch to make sure I get started on time.  If you don't have a timer... get one!  There's a timer on the SMARTboard that the kiddos love because it plays different tones.  However, I have yet to learn how to make it start over automatically after each rotation.  If someone knows how to do this I would LOVE to know.  Usually, I just use a hand timer that counts down and beeps.  The kiddos are pretty good at hearing the beep and automatically doing what needs to be done!

FYI- I have 100 minutes of math time {per class} each day.  We have a core & more.  I teach my curriculum and guided math during our core time.  During more time is when we complete enrichment activities.  So, here's the schedule I follow every week for my core time.  I am going to explain each day for you :)

o Monday- we do not conduct guided math on Mondays.  We always complete or grade an Exemplar, have a whole group lesson, and review the previous week's Math Calendar.

Tuesday - Thursday: {we follow the same schedule each day}

First 5 minutes of class: review homework from previous night.  On Mondays, when we have no homework to review, I have students spend this time writing their HW in their agenda for the week.
15 Minutes: mini-lesson {which is determined by pacing guided}
15 Minutes: rotation 1
15 Minutes: rotation 2
15 Minutes: rotation 3
10 Minutes: seat reflection in journal

Friday- this is the day I have my students complete the weekly assessment to drive instruction for the following week and we have a unit assessment OR whole group lesson.  YES- some Fridays we have two assessments.  But, please remember that the guided math assessment is only 10 questions!

Don't Miss Guided Math: Part 3

What I Use As My Stations

*Questions? Comments?  Something you want me talk more about?  Leave them below :)

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  1. Hi Terri-
    This 1st year teacher is loving your breakdown of your guided math! My district is making the switch next year, and I am definitely not feeling ready- your explanation is helping though! :)
    I do have one question, could you elaborate on the journal seat reflection. I'm sure its just a question relating to what they did in class, but I just thought I'd ask. Also, do your kiddos have math journals? And thanks again! :)

  2. Hi Terri,
    Thank you so much for sharing your schedule for guided math! It is very helpful.
    Funky First Grade Fun

  3. Terri,
    I love your idea of reviewing homework daily before the lesson begins. I have always hated collecting homework knowing that it's going straight to the recycle bin - what a waste!! Thanks for the idea.

  4. I love how descriptive this post is! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Third Grade Experience

  5. Abigail- I have never done math journals, but I'm going to do it this upcoming school year. I think I'm going to make a start up list for the kids to glue to the inside of their journal to help them get started with their reflections each day. I'll post that when I get it ready :) Our math journal will be used daily as #1- a note keeper {want to do better with teaching the kids how to take notes since I teach 4th grade}, and also as a #2- place to keep daily reflections on math. I'm actually going to make this one of posts as part of my guided math series :)

    Kimberly & Amanda- thanks for your sweet comments ;)

    Cathy- Last year we never went over homework because of time. I took it for a grade, but we never discussed it. I can't do this! It drives me crazy that these kiddos go home and take time to complete their homework. I am going to do it! I'm going to go over homework everyday!

  6. On the SB if you have the timer change the slide, you can have the next timer start immediately upon moving to that slide. Does this make sense? Can I email you an example? Thanks for the great information. Virginia

  7. This is super helpful - thanks so much for sharing. Next year, I'll have first AND second graders in the same class, so I will need to teach small groups anyway. The short assessments will help me break those grades into smaller groups to differentiate the week's lessons. Thanks again!

    Magnificent Multiagers!

  8. First of all, I LOVE your post. It was so nice, clear, and helpful. May I ask you to post one sample of your 10 weekly assessment?
    Thanks so much again for the wonderful information!

  9. Love it! I usually teach a whole group lesson and allow the students time to practice (as you do) then break out into Math Tubs which are math games. Some enrich, some review, some practce. This next school year I am moving to third grade and I am so excited about your posts on Guided Math-can't wait until post 3.

    Learn with ME in Grade Three

  10. I'd also like to know more about your assessments. Are they sort of a pretest of what you are going to be teaching the following week, or a little of what you have been working on and a pretest, or are they more broad?

  11. Hey ya'll! Sorry, I've been lying on the beach for a week :) Some of you were asking about the assessment I use. I actually don't make these up. A local math coach in a nearby county makes these and posts them on her website. I then download her copy {which she allows} and modify it to fit my students and what we are doing at the time. She does not allow others to post her things on their website so I will give you the link to her page. It's In the left column, click on your grade level. She calls them TOTD or Ticket Out the Door. She has them by week and posts them as the weeks come up. Right now I think she has the first 4-5 weeks of school posted. Let me know if you have any other questions. BTW- I usually change the bonus to question #s 11 & 12 or delete them all together. You'll know what I mean when you see it ;)

    Also- she has a WONDERFUL weekly homework download. It's a spiral review and she has it for ALL grade levels. Check it out!

    Ashleigh- it's a pre-test for what we learn the next week along with a few questions of what we have learned previously.


  12. Terri,
    I have used math journals for the past 4 years with my fourth graders. We use them to take notes in, do classwork, and for any homework that is not on a worksheet. This way, the kids take home their journals with notes and problems from that day's class, so they have a resource to help with any trouble spots on the homework.

    As for homework, I usually check it in my small group mini lessons. We go over only a few of the problems, choosing just the most challenging. Doing this small group allows for clearning up misconceptions quickly and I can readily see who had an easy time with the homework and who struggled.

  13. I am not able to find the TOTD...? I have downloaded her weekly homework and am in LOVE!

    Any suggestions on the TOTD? Am I just not looking in the right spot?

    By the way, thank you SO much for posting all of this awesome information! What a blessing.

  14. Lauren,
    What grade are you looking for? She only has the TOTDs for 4th and 5th. Sorry! You could possibly look at the 4th grade one to get an idea and maybe create one for your grade level. Hope this helps!


  15. I love your blog! So many wonderful ideas! I can't wait to use some of them. Especially the guided math groups. We are using a new series and I am having trouble fitting all of that in as well as my normal groups. :( But an idea for a timer. I took songs from itunes, easy going piano songs, they play for 18 minutes (reading groups) then the song respect plays. The kiddos know they have one minute and seven seconds to clean up and move to the next center. When the next song plays they have to be where they belong. Then more piano music plays for 18 minutes then respect.. I have 4 rotations so my cd is music and the song respect for almost an hour and a half. I press play once and it plays through all of centers. Just an idea.

  16. I am worried about our large class size next year. I had 30 students in one math class and 28 in the other last year. How many small groups would you do and how many in a group? I was told we might have 32 in a class this year :(. I love your ideas but am nervous about trying them with such a large amount of students.

  17. This is always an issue. Last year, I had twenty seven students. If some students really understood the concept being taught {based on their weekly and informal assessments} I would just have them complete independent work instead of meeting with small group. I would eventually conference with them {like maybe on Fridays after their assessment when others were still working} to explain why we didn't meet in small group and to address any issues they were having. When you get up to that size, your small groups become medium groups! It's just something that happens and there's really not much we can do about it :( You may need to conduct small group at the front board or floor for space. I found it VERY difficult to fit 8+ students at my back table.

  18. I know it's a long time since you asked about the timer on the SB .. but what I do is work out how many rotations I'm doing and set the timers to all start at the same time. But eg the first will count down from 10, the next 20, the next 30 ... etc.

    If you came up with a better solution it would be great to hear :)

  19. Hi! I love your poster on guided math groups. I've been teaching 5th grade reading and social for the past 2 1/2 years. This year, I am at a new school teaching 4th grade and math, along with the other subjects. Do you mind making a poster that includes group 5. Thanks in advance!


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