Guided Math has changed my math instruction for the better. It has changed, improved, and continued to develop over the past three years. I'm excited to share with you today how I set up my guided math block, the different centers and components that I use, and ideas for implementing Guided Math in your classroom!
I have an hour for my Guided Math block and I try not to waste any of it! I begin by explaining any new center assignments/expectations for the day. I also give reminders of what they were working on the previous day. Students work in 5 different groups and rotate to five centers every day. Ten minutes is the perfect amount of time for them. They are able to stay on task for this amount of time and have to begin their work right away to complete their center. During our closing we talk about what we did well, clear any misconceptions from the day, and look ahead to the following day.
Teacher Time is pretty self explainitory! This is the time when I meet with all of my different groups. The lessons we do depend on the needs of that particular group. This past year we did a lot of creation during teacher time and practice by playing math games. I've been working on creating Guided Math Snapshots, which highlight creative and engaging mini lessons that I have done with students. They focus on problem solving and creating! The games in the photos below are included in my Guided Math Unit Products. There are so many resources on TPT- the possibilities for teacher time lessons are endless!!!
The Makerspace is a class favorite. A makerspace is a special spot in our classroom where students plan, design, create, and redesign a product based on specific criteria. Many times students are asked to create something to solve a problem. Some makerspace projects involve using recylables and STEM supplies. Students showcase their work in the classroom and eventually take it home. Other projects are quick building projects using materials like: K'Nex, legos, etc. These materials are taken apart to be used again in the classroom. ***Read more about what a Makerspace is and how we use our Classroom Makerspace HERE!***
I have several resources that I created to use during Guided Math time at the Makerspace! Check out my STEM Resources HERE! I created entire design briefs to go with each math unit I teach. There are also STEM Grab Bag challenges, which I have put at the Makerspace as a challenge as well! I've been working on creating digital versions of my Makerspace Math Task Cards and will be releasing them as they are created! Check them out here!
If the makerspace is a class favorite, then the Creation Station is a close second! The Creation Station is an extension of our classroom Makerspace. Students work on creating a DIGITAL product here that showcases their knowledge. The goal is to share what they created beyond the classroom. Some of the things students create are "How To", "All About", and other videos to showcase their learning. ***Read more about our favorite FREE apps to use when creating HERE!*** . ***Read more about what a Creation Station is and how it is used in our classroom HERE!***
My Creation Station Task Cards for each math unit are available on TPT and will be released as they are finished. ***Check out all my Creation Station products by clicking HERE!***
The Math Journal center is where students work independently to practice skills we are working on. Math journal pages are short (usually no more than 6 questions). I didn't want to feel like I was giving my students busy work, I just wanted to know if they understood the information that was taught! :-) When they are done working they can check their answers with a buddy. I have made copies and had students glue journal pages inside a composition notebook in the past. I changed things up this year by having my students have a binder with dividers instead. They have a math journal section and I print out the math journal pages I created. We have a spot in the classroom that displays the page they need to complete on that given day. This has been especially helpful for students who have difficulty remembering routines and have difficulty completing multiple steps. It has saved SO MUCH time and glue as well! :-)
This is the only center that my students can really 'finish early'. They have the option to color their journal pages, complete any unfinished pages, or select a game from our math tub bin. I usually keep games that I have already done with them during teacher time inside of here. It is a great way to review skills that they have already learned too!
I have math journal pages available for all units that I teach. They are also included in the Guided Math Unit Bundles. ***If you are interested in my Math Journal products click HERE!***
Our computer center has changed a lot of the past couple of years! I've had students work on several different things at this center. You may have a district/county wide math program that is avaible to you. A math program that our county uses is called Dreambox. This is one task I have given students to complete here. Have you heard of XtraMath? It is a FREE fact fluency (addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division) program that you can use with your students to track their growth and progress! I've also had my students play math games related to our unit of study. In the past I had links on my website, but it was so difficult for my kiddos to navigate! I created a PDF with pictures of the games & embedded links to make life easier for all of us!
These Computer Time PDFs can be saved to your school computer for easy student access! They are included in my Guided Math Unit Bundles!
Students are grouped based on what skills they already have for a given unit and what skills they need to learn. While this means that I might have five different mini lessons for the day (which can be a lot of work!), it ALSO means that all of my students are learning something new and meaningful to their individual learning! We begin every unit with a pre-assessment.
Students are aware of how math groups are created and that they change with each unit. Students will get the opportunity to work with almost all of their peers by the end of the year. Each pretest is short (10 questions) and has a similar format to our end of the unit assessment. I look specifically at what skills each student has/does not have after they take their pretest. I use these columns to mark what questions were difficult for my class as a whole and what skills I need to focus my instruction on. I've brought this information to Math Intervention meetings as well!
As a whole class incentive we work towards a weekly point goal (usually around 40 points). If we make it to our goal by Friday afternoon students can participate in Fun Friday. We use ClassDojo to keep track of our points. I leave it up on the SMART Board, so students can easily hear a "Ding!" for earning a point or the noise for when they lose a point. It will also say why they lost a point...Not the correct noise level, Off Task Behavior, Not Respecting Property, etc. I use the ClassDojo App on my phone to simply add/deduct points from my teacher table. The best part is...I don't have to stop everyone to explain why we earned/lost a point! I typically give a ...'teacher look' in the direction of where the problem occurred. The kiddos will usually try to get their classmates on track. Points can be earned back if behavior improves within the next couple of minutes!
If a specific student is having difficulty doing the work appropriately, staying on task, etc, I typically give a few reminders. I implement Flexible Seating in my classroom, so sometimes it is just a matter of suggesting that they make a better choice for the location of their work. There have been times when a student loses their privilege of doing a center. This has happened at our Makerspace before or Creation Station, but typically doesn't happen at our other centers. I speak with the student one on one, state the behavior they were showing, state the expectation, and explain that they will not be doing that center until they can follow expectations. I might have them do another round of a 'less desirable' center (XtraMath, math worksheet, etc.) The next day the student usually gets back on track! :-)
- Have students work with a buddy on math journal assignments.
- Have "Expert" students available to give reminders for guided math routines or to help restate directions.
- Display the center rotations on the SMART Board for all students to easily see.
- Use a chime to signal rotations and clean up. One chime= rotate Three chimes = clean up
- For students who become easily agitated/frustrated and who have difficulty cooperating/working with others: I strategically set up the center sequence for a group with this particular student. For example: I might start with Teacher Time so they are more focused and ready to go, then they work on a center that is enjoyable and easy for them to be successful, then a center where they have to work with others (Makerspace/Creation Station), and then a center they can complete independently (Math Journal/Computer Time). It has made a huge difference for some of my students!
Teaching Guided Math has helped me become a better teacher and meet the needs of ALL my diverse learners. Everyone gets what they truly need! How do you teach math? What centers do your students work on during math time? I would love to hear!
-Ashley from Talkin Pinata Teaching