Flexible Guided Math -Why It Works

You know small group instruction is the best way to support your students. But maybe it's just not working in your classroom. Many teachers are ready to move away from "set" groups during Guided Math but aren't sure what the alternative is. The traditional set groups require students to stay with a group of classmates while they rotate between various tables or activities throughout the room, including the teacher table. However, this traditional set up can lead to a lot of frustration and really makes things complicated when you are trying to adjust your groups for each topic you teach

Here are the problems with traditional set groups:

  • Students are with the same classmates for the entire Guided Math time period. This may be anywhere for 45 minutes up to 90 minutes. This often leads to behavior issues.
  • It is difficult to change who is in which group meaning your groups are likely to stay the same. Once again, this forces students to be with the same classmates for long periods of time.
  • If you do try to change up your groups, it can be complicated explaining it to students and teachers often find it is easier to just leave everything how it is
  • You are constantly having to prep enough work or activities to keep them busy while they are at each station or group (This means you are planning 3 to 5 things for math time every day)
  • Rotation times tend to be equal times in length so students have enough time to do the work of each rotation
  • There are often no other adults to help manage a group of students moving around the room together
  • Differentiating is very difficult. At best you can differentiate between groups, but it's hard to plan that many activities.

Why "Flexible" Guided Math Groups Work:

  • Your only set rotation is Meet With Teacher
  • You can spend as much or as little time as you want with each group
  • Your students are still pulled to your table in groups--however, its much easier to switch them up depending on how they perform with the objective
  • Students spend a majority of the time working independently instead of with the same classmates
  • Students have the freedom of choice
  • It is much easier to differentiate

Here's How It Works:

M-Meet with Teacher (You pull "groups" to your table. Medium-high-low is the order I pull.)

Everyone else:
A-At your seat (Some type of work that you require your students to complete. I use my Guided Math practice pages.) (Differentiate as needed with these.)
T-Technology (I require my students to complete Xtramath for fluency practice--they have to take turns) (Xtramath automatically differentiates!)
H-Hands On (Students get to choose what activity to work on. Freedom of choice makes them more likely to be on task. I allow my students to do Extension activities from my Guided Math bundles, plus Common Core Math Centers). I rotate these throughout the year to help spiral review things we have learned. Also--another way to differentiate is by telling a student, hey once you are done with your work, I want you to work on the rounding center.

ALL of the A-T-H work happens at their desks or in quiet places around the room. Students earn the privilege to do H (hands on activities) with a partner. In the meantime, while students are doing these things, they are also being pulled to my group for Meet with teacher.

I have an entire blog post where I explain my Guided Math Set Up. In this post I go a bit more in depth and give you a peek inside my math block. Plus, you can get a free sample day of Guided Math for your grade level!

Download a FREE Flexible Guided Math How To Guide Book here! This will help you wrap your mind around how you can make Guided Math work for you!

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