Implementing a guided math routine can be a daunting thought. Where to start? How to group my students? What are the other kids doing? Having used this system for several months in my own classroom I can tell you that it really isn't all that difficult!
Where Do I Start?
To begin, you need to consider the structure of your math program. There are many options out there, from Math Daily 3 to B.U.I.L.D. Math. I began by doing some research into the current options, considered my own students and their needs, and eventually decided to develop a structure of my own:
My groups are general enough that I have tons of options for activities without limiting myself, and I can integrate technology anywhere in the structure!
How Do I Group My Students?
I chose to organize my students into ability groupings, although that is really up to you! I wanted students with similar needs to be working together with me at the same time so that I could target what they really needed during Teacher Time.
Getting Guided Math Organized
Once my students are grouped for a particular unit and the activities are prepared, I keep my students organized on my guided math board. In the example below you can see the categories listed with the student names on the tiny blocks. These are all magnetic allowing me to easily move them around. The larger blocks have the activity choices listed for each of the guided math stations.
What Does Teacher Time Look Like?
After a whole-group lesson on whatever topic we're covering, I pull a group of students to my guided reading table at the back of the room for a secondary lesson. Depending on the needs of the group I review, extend, elaborate or provide additional challenge to the students. My favorite part of this process is the opportunity I have to closely observe how each of my students solves problems, uses math tools and communicates his or her understanding about math. This observation really allows me to know the strengths and needs of each child.
What Are The Other Kids Doing?
I am a firm believer that choice is a powerful motivator and find that my students are able to stay focused on a task much longer when they have chosen what to work on. Of course anyone with even a little classroom experience knows you can't just throw centers at students and have them used appropriately or successfully. We spent a great deal of time early in the year learning just what was expected during guided math groups and posted this collaborative anchor chart. (If you use The Daily 5 you may recognize some of the language - perfect for consistency across subjects!)
What can students choose? Within each of the other guided math stations I have 3 or 4 different activities available for my kiddos. They are all kept in large storage bags within bins that have each station clearly labeled.
I have carefully created these activities to cover a range of skills and give students practice with tasks that are easy enough to be completed independently, but challenging enough to keep them engaged. You can see a sample of the variety I provide in this photo from my 2D Geometry unit.
I hope you're feeling a little more prepared to tackle guided math groups in your own classroom! I'd love to hear from you if you try this out for yourself. If you're interested in using my structure and activities in your classroom you can find all of my guided math resources here:
Be sure to stop by my blog for a visit!