Monday, 10 August 2015

Math workshops - small groups

I'm back home from my holiday and ready to join Kathy at Third Grade Doodles for Math Workshop Monday. 

Five important advantages of meeting with small guided Math groups:
1.  The kids prefer small group of instruction. They're always asking, "When will it be MY group's turn?", even when they know it's their group's day to meet. If their group doesn't meet when they're expecting they don't hesitate to protest.
2.  You capture their attention much more effectively than in a whole class setting.
3.  You can monitor their thinking and pick up on confusions quicker.
4.  Kids having problems understanding the concept are less hesitant to ask for clarification.
5.  It's easy to switch the groups around or add another student to the group.

 My Small Groups
I meet with my small groups during the last hour of the Math block, starting with the group that needs the most help.   This works well for two reasons:
First:  they are the kids that are most likely to need extra instruction and if things go sideways later in the Math block (someone comes to the door, there's a fire drill, someone drops a basket of crayons, other students get into a disagreement or are off task, pieces are missing from the Math centers.....) I will have already met with them and their group won't be missed
Second: it is always much quieter when the rest of the class is working at individual seat work, so we can all concentrate better.  Because I have such small groups I sometimes combine 2 of them for small groups, or if there were kids from other groups that needed differentiated instruction I can just add them to a group for one or more meetings.
This is my centers rotation board with the groups listed above it.
I usually start out with a quick warm up exercise that takes 2-3 minutes, or do a quick review of the previous concept.  This might be as simple as looking back at their Math work from the day before and asking if they have any questions about it.
Next I introduce the main activity that we'll be covering in the small group lesson, which is related to the whole group lesson that I just taught. Usually this part of the Guided Math lesson includes some manipulatives or graphic organizer or game that will give them a chance to practice  the concept   In a
small group setting I can closely observe what they are doing and how they're doing it. I encourage
them to explain what they're thinking. Often I draw them out by asking questions, but I've noticed that when kids are in a small group setting they are much more willing eager to ask their own questions spontaneously than they would when the whole class is together.

After about 10 minutes I get them started on their seat work for the day. If the group has kids who are having difficulty with the concept I walk them through at least one of the questions.  Then I have them complete one on their own which they show to me so I can see if they clearly understand before going to work independently.

If I'm working with a group of kids who quickly understand Math concepts they will usually have completed and marked their independent work before I meet with them. We usually start off with a quick discussion about the work they did and what (if anything) caused them to get incorrect answers.  The main part of the lesson is an extension of the main lesson where I show them "mathematician tricks" to find answers quicker along with an activity that will challenge their thinking.

I have been reading lots about Math Workshop and Guided Math in the last few weeks and found this Pinterest board from Dr. Nicki Newton that is full of great information.

She has a Guided Math blog you might find interesting too.


  1. I'm looking forward to trying guided math groups this year. I've been putting it off:)

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