You're probably here because you are thinking of giving Guided Math a try in your classroom. You probably are looking for a way to better reach your students so you can meet them at their level! You are in the right place. There are so many benefits to small group instruction. Today I am going to break down Guided Math for you, in a way that actually makes sense!

First of all, know that Guided Math can work in your classroom. Don't be intimidated. Your groups can be streamlined, but still flexible. You can even do this without another adult in your classroom.

In this blog post I explain:
  • how I teach whole group math and how it varies from day to day (I think understanding this will help you understand what I do during Guided Math)
  • how I make Guided Math work in my classroom! (You can even download a free sample for your grade level!)
Psst--by the way---There is a link to my FREE Guided Math Course at the end of this post. You can get fresh ideas and more of a breakdown of running flexible groups in your classroom!

Guided math set up and organization

Whole Group Math Set Up:

For me, my math block begins with whole group instruction. This is usually a 20-30 minute lesson, where I may be introducing a new objective for the day. Sometimes, I like to introduce the objective during whole group if the objective is a little more complicated. This saves me from having to repeat myself too much during small groups.

However, if the objective for the day is simple and straightforward, I will introduce it during small group math. (For more information about how I determine if the objective should be taught during small group or whole group (and examples), check out this blog post!)

If I plan to introduce it during small group, I spend my whole group time doing one of the following activities:
-Sometimes I also use whole group time as an opportunity to review something I noticed a lot of students making mistakes with.
-Sometimes I create an anchor chart with my class,
-practice math vocabulary,
-do a math read aloud,
-work on math interactive notebooks,
-solve a tricky problem together, etc...
-Also, I might have students come to the front of the room to "be the teacher" and show the class how they solve a problem.

My whole group time really varies depending on the flow of the lessons and how well my class is doing. I like to keep my whole group time flexible.

A Note About Gradual Release:

When introducing the day's objective (whether during whole group or small group), I like to use the gradual release model. (I do, we do, you do, you do.) If you don't know much about this--you should look into it! Gradual release really helps kids. First I model. (I do) Then, I have students help me solve a problem. (We do) Next, students work with a group or partner on a problem. (You do) Last, students complete an independent practice. (You do) Usually the independent practice is a quick ticket out the door style problem. I use these to help me form my flexible groups, which leads me to the next part of my math block.
Learn about my guided math set up and organization! From whole group to small group my math block is super flexible and allows me to work with my students where they are! Learn the FOUR big components to my math time!

Guided Math/Small Group Math/Math Rotations Set Up:

Call it whatever you may, this is the time of day where I meet with my students in small targeted groups. Students are busy working in all parts of the room, most of them in centers working independently. Over the years, I have refined my Guided Math set up to make it super easy for me to implement, yet effective for my students! I am excited to share my techniques with you.

Want to download a free sample day from my Guided Math Curriculum? Click on your grade level!

First of all, let me start by saying that I do not have set rotations where I ring a bell and students move to the next group after a certain amount of minutes. I have found that that does not work for me during a math block because students skill levels vary so much! And, depending on what we are doing, we may need more or less time.

Instead, there are 4 big components to my Guided Math time. You can use the acronym MATH to help you remember these components.
Be organized as you set up and plan for guided math. This printable will help you brainstorm and jot down ideas for how to have each component working in your classroom. You can download it for free.
Want to download this free planning guide to take notes about this post? Get it here. You can also use it to jot down your ideas. Be sure to save a copy to your computer before you try to edit.

M-Meet With Teacher

I work with students in small groups (that I form based on their skill level on a certain objective) These are FLEXIBLE groups, meaning I pull students in and out of them all the time. They are not set groups. The simple reason being, a student who is great with geometry might really struggle with addition and subtraction! I use the information I gather from my students independent work in whole group math to set up my groups. (Do I adjust these groups everyday? No. But I am always sure to refine them from unit to unit.) During teacher time I target students to help grow them in a certain skill.
Guided Math lesson plans with a specific objective for each day.
I use targeted lesson plans that focus on a specific objective
I usually start with my middle know, the kids who are inconsistent with the objective. They kind of get it--but aren't 100% sure how or why they are solving a problem a certain way. Normally I have found that this group of kids need a little extra practice and direction from me before they are ready to try it on their own again.

The next group I pull in are my high flyers. This is usually very brief since they have already shown mastery of a skill. I use this quick check in time to make sure that they really DO get it and are comfortable with the objective. Once I am sure of this, I give them an enrichment activity to go work on.

The last group I pull is my group of students who are really struggling with the objective. I pull them last because I need to spend the most time supporting them! Also, by this time, if a student from my first group is still having a hard time with something, they have probably come back to me for support. Now, I can add them to my last group and give them another dose of targeted instruction.

Prepare for end of year testing by tracking your students' success through the unit overview sheets. A big help during Guided math that can save you a lot of time at the end of the year.
Teacher Tip: I can keep track of how successful my class is with each day's lesson by color coding my unit overview sheet. Save every unit overview and when its time to review for state testing, it is easy to know exactly what objectives to spend the most time reinforcing!

Vocabulary and Definition cards go in pocket charts for us to reference during the lesson. I also include any posters or essential questions we'll be using that day.
Guided Math vocabulary and pocket charts can be used to help teach the Guided Math lessons.Guided Math vocabulary and pocket charts can be used to help teach the Guided Math lessons.

I also use various printables during my lesson to support students. These might be manipulatives, templates, vocabulary trifolds, posters, etc... These are pics from materials in my Guided Math units.

So, what are kids doing when they are not working with me?

A-At Your Seat (Skill Practice)

This is usually a longer form of independent work that students will turn into me. It may be a practice page or some other activity that can be turned in for me to check later. Students work on this independently, at their seats and turn it in when they finish.

Practice sheets to go along with each day's Guided Math lesson!
If you use my Guided Math units, you can use the practice pages that are included for each day's lesson.

T-Technology (Fluency)

I have limited technology in my room so students have to take turns. I like for all of my students to get their green check mark on XtraMath every day. The computers must always be in use in my classroom. As soon as one student finishes, they get another student to log on. (The only students who do not go log on are the students who are currently at my table. They wait until they are finished with Meet With Teacher time.) If students are done with their skill practice and have turned it in, they can also practice math fluency using a wipe off sheet they keep in their desks. This is a fact practice sheet inside a sheet protector that they write on with an expo marker. (This is always in their desks, and is an alternative to reading a book when they finish something before others. They can pull it out anytime during the day.)

H-Hands On (Centers & Extension Activities)


Once students have finished their skill practice, turned it in, and have completed fluency (or are waiting to complete fluency) they work on Hands On activities. Mind you--they are still working at their desks (or possibly with a partner at a table in the room. This depends on behavior. Students have to earn the privilege of partner games.) I use my Common Core Math Centers and keep them in a bucket all year. Students practice these centers often and it helps keep the standards fresh in their heads all year long.

Common Core Math centers can be used to practice and review standards all year long. These are a great addition to your Guided Math groups.

Extension Activities

Another option for students who have completed their skill practice and fluency is to work on extension activities. This can be a writing activity that has to do with our math objective, a puzzle, or a math game. These activities all go with the specific objective we are working on for the day. (They can be found in all of my Guided Math units. Just like the lesson plan and practice page, there is also an extension activity for each day's lesson.) Students are still working on these at their seats, or somewhere else in the room--quietly.
Each day you will have a Guided Math Lesson, a practice page, and an extension activity. These are perfect for centers! Your Guided Math groups will run smoothly with these resources.
The extension activity goes along with the specific objective taught that day. So, students practice the objective when they do the practice page and when they do the activity.

My Guided Math Bundles include a variety of extension activities to keep your students engaged.

BTW--These extension activities are another great way to spiral review throughout the entire year!

An anchor chart as simple as this can help you teach your students their responsibilities for Guided Math. You can customize it for what you want them to complete each day and what they may work on when they finish.
This anchor chart helps students learn what they are responsible for during Guided Math groups. Instead of traveling around the classroom with the same group of classmates, students have the freedom of choice. By providing must do activities first, your students are always getting the most important parts completed. They love having the freedom of choice to pick what they want to do next. Say goodbye to planning "stations" for your students to work on at different tables. This flexible approach can help eliminate behavior issues while allowing you to meet students where they are!

Unit Reflections are a great way for teachers to reflect on their teaching practices!
At the end of a math unit, I like to take some time to reflect. I write down my green, yellow, and red students and make any notes about the class performance as a whole. If there is something I know I need to spend time spiral reviewing the rest of the year, I make note of it here. At the bottom of the page I make notes about my teaching. If there is something my kids struggled to understand, maybe I need to spend some time looking at different ways to teach/articulate it. Also, if there is something I want to be sure to do different next year, I write it here as well. This helps me refine my teaching practice over the years. Next year, I can pull out this sheet before I teach the unit to have a better idea for how I can teach my next class. (This Unit Reflection Sheet comes with the Guided Math Year Long Bundles and is in the teacher handbook. See links below for the yearlong bundles.)

Looking to learn even more about my flexible approach to Guided Math? Whether you have no experience with Guided Math, or years of experience, this course can help you! I go further in depth with everything I covered in this post! Put your feet up, grab some coffee, and relax--you can do this whole course from your cell phone!
Sign up for this FREE course and get fresh ideas for running Guided Math in YOUR classroom!

You can also grab my free Flexible Guided Math How to Guide Book here!

For more resources to use during your math block check out,

Guided Math Year Long Resources for 5th Grade

This post is a brief overview of what is included in my 3rd Grade Guided Math bundle. If you'd like to learn more about how I use it to teach Guided Math in my classroom, check out this post! (If you are new to Guided Math, I also have a free, short Guided Math course that can walk you through getting started!)

Okay, back to this post. I am so excited to tell you about my Guided Math bundle. I included so much, because it is my goal to give you everything you need to successfully implement Guided Math in your classroom! I hope this resource can save you a lot of time. With all of your lesson plans written, and resources gathered in one place, I hope to help you gain back some of your precious free time this school year!

Guided Math for Third Grade is composed of 15 units divided into four quarters. The units range anywhere from 1 week long to 4 weeks long, depending on the standard(s) being covered. There are 8 weeks of lesson plans for each quarter. (If you work in a traditional school, this will leave you one week for review or test prep each quarter. You can also use that extra week as a buffer week because we all know interruptions happen that get you off track.) Check out the year at a glance below.

Guided Math is intended for small group instruction done by the teacher. These lessons are designed to be done as targeted instruction in a group setting, but teachers may choose to use some of the materials in whole group lessons as well.

 Binder spine labels are also included so you can keep all of your 3rd Grade Guided Math materials organized! (These also come in an ink friendly version.)

Want to download a free sample day from my Guided Math Curriculum? Click on your grade level!
Scroll down to take a look at what's included!

 Vocabulary cards, definitions, and questions from the lessons are provided to display. You can put these in a pocket chart, or have them out on the table while you are teaching a lesson.

Printables are intended to be used to support instruction and provide students with hands on tools, posters, templates, and more that can help them understand whatever topic you are covering.

 A practice page is included for each day and covers the objective taught this day. Use this during your small group lesson to check for understanding, or make it a part of your rotations!

Extension activities are also included for each day. These can be used after students have been taught the day's lesson. You can add them to your rotations or centers.

Additional resources are provided to support your instruction. These resources vary from foldables, to games, to extra practice.

One of my favorite things in the Guided Math units are the unit overviews. Try color coding how well your class did with a lesson as you teach them. Save every unit overview and when its time to review for state testing, you know exactly what objectives to spend the most time reinforcing.

The Guided Math Bundles now include a Teacher Handbook & Overview. Inside you can find these unit reflection sheets. They are a great place to take notes and reflect on your teaching as you teach the units. Put down areas you want to review, things you want to do different next year, etc... This is also something you can use to show your administrator that you reflect on your teaching practices!

The Guided Math bundle now has Student Graphs that you can use to allow students to graph their pre and post assessment scores to track their growth. There is also a generic graph that you can use to track scores from any math assessment you give.

Get the 3rd Grade Guided Math Bundle HERE.

Click HERE to learn more about how I run Guided Math time in my classroom.

**Available for grades 1-5!

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