Introducing the Math Objective: Whole Group or Guided Math?



I have been asked by a lot of teachers, when do you introduce the objective for the day? The truth is, I like to be flexible--especially with my whole group instruction! If you have a designated Whole Group and Small Group math time every day, think about it....what is the best use of your time?

Do you know when it makes sense to introduce your math objective during small group time instead of whole group time? Learn more about how to make that determination, plus, get different lesson ideas for whole group math!

When I decide when to introduce the objective for the day, I ask myself, is this objective simple and straightforward? If the answer is YES, I will introduce the objective during Guided Math. Think about it... During Guided Math, you are meeting with a small group of students at a time. If the objective is simple and straightforward, you won't mind repeating it three, four, maybe even five times.


Here's an example of an objective I would teach during small group math:
to identify the tens a 2-digit whole number falls between

This is an objective taken directly from my 3rd Grade Guided Math Rounding Unit. This objective is building a foundation and setting students up to be ready to round to the nearest ten. Since I am not quite introducing rounding yet, this objective can easily be covered during Guided Math. I can break out some hundred charts, review tens, and practice this skill with my students. I'll even use some number lines to help. This objective does not need to be taught during my whole group math time.

Now, let's say the math objective is a little more complicated, like this one...
to write repeated addition and multiplication equations to match an array

This objective (from my 3rd Grade Guided Math Multiplication Basics Unit) is a little more complicated. Depending on how well my students did with arrays in second grade, this objective could require a lot of skills. Since I only meet with my students for about fifteen minutes during Guided Math, I really don't want to have to spend most of my time teaching this skill over and over. Not only do my students have to interpret arrays, they also have to write repeated addition equations and multiplication equations to match the array. In this case, I would introduce the objective during Whole Group Math, and provide more practice and support during Guided Math.
Sometimes, it makes sense to introduce your math objective for the day during small group, or guided math, time. On these days, you may wonder what you should be doing during your Whole Group Math time? This post includes several ideas!

So what do I do during Whole Group Math on the days I teach the objective during Guided Math? I have a variety of activities I like to do with my students on these days. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Use Whole Group Math time as an opportunity to review something I noticed a lot of students making mistakes with
  • Create an anchor chart with my class
  • Practice our math vocabulary and definitions
  • Do a math read aloud and discuss
  • Work on our math interactive notebooks
  • Solve a tricky word problem together
  • Have a student come to the front of the room to "be the teacher" and show the class how they solved a problem
  • I also love to play games with my whole class such as, I have Who has games, SCOOT, or Bingo games!

For more information about Guided Math, including how I set it up in my classroom, check out this page!

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

Don't forget to pin this post so you can find it later!
Sometimes, it makes sense to introduce your math objective for the day during small group, or guided math, time. On these days, you may wonder what you should be doing during your Whole Group Math time? This post includes several ideas!


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