Teaching reading in a small group setting has always made sense to me.
I’ve been doing ‘centers/guided reading’ back since my 2nd year of teaching (in 1st grade). I think it was my first year of third grade that I started looking into teaching math in the same method: small group.
I have never turned back!
I LOVE how I can give immediate feedback to each student. I LOVE how even the shy, quiet students will open up and participate. I LOVE how the focus is on quality and not quantity.
The groups may only last 15-20 minutes, but I feel like I reach each student. They don’t always ‘get it’, but after the small group, I’ll know who doesn’t ‘get it’ and I can help them in other ways.
HOW OFTEN DO I DO MATH STATION?
This changes weekly and it’s only been 4 weeks since I implemented this.
We did not do math stations the 1st or 2nd week. We just started learning about the rotations on the 3rd week of school, so we’ve only had 2 weeks of practice.
I have math stations planned for THREE times a week: MONDAY, TUESDAY, and THURSDAY.
I complete a whole group lesson in the morning – followed by one center/small group rotation.
I then finish my 2 other rotations in the afternoon after recess.
A LOOK AT MY MATH SCHEDULE
8:50-9:10 – Whole group instruction
9:10-9:30 – 1st rotation (centers and small group)
We then have: specials, snack, reading block with writing integrated, lunch, recess.
1:40-2:00 – 2nd rotation
2:00-2:20- 3rd rotation
WHAT DO YOU USE FOR WHOLE GROUP LESSONS?
This also changes, but I’ve been using 3 sources for my whole group lessons
1 – Engage New York Math Lessons (40%)
2 – Math Tri-folds – organized by Common Core standard (40%)
3 – Our GO Math Textbook (not very much of this) (20%)
We were told what standards to teach and that we can pretty much teach it anyway way we want, we just need to make sure we cover all of the standards.
We are given a map for the entire year that suggests which standards to teach at what time and for how long. I use that to map out my lessons plans. I say “I”, but really it is our AMAZING third grade team that works together to help put our lesson plans together.
I then go in and add the resources that I am comfortable using in my lessons.
A CLOSER LOOK AT ENGAGE NEW YORK MATH MODULES
How do I use these? Let’s look at 3rd grade Math Module 2 – Topic A – Lesson 2.
If you click on the link, you will see that they have the file in PDF or WORD format. I always print the PDF just because it’s smaller in size, but having the word document gives you the ability to print only what you need.
When you open up the file you see the following image:
The lessons are AWESOME! They break everything down for you and even give you math talk examples and student work examples.
I don’t do every lesson. For example, I only taught lessons 2 and 3 from this module (Telling time to the minute).
I read over the fluency practice and concept development to get ideas of ‘what to say’ and ‘what to focus on’.
I then pull out the Lesson 2 Problem Set page and Lesson 2 Homework page and complete these two in small group.
I place the Exit Ticket at my INDEPENDENT math station for students to complete BEFORE they move on to the math center.
And that’s how I usually use the resources for Engage New York.
I say usually, because I don’t always use the lessons – or just part of them.
My second resource for math stations are my Math Tri-Folds!
This idea came to be after getting advice from my friends (Mrs. Blevins and Mrs. Sheppard) – both fellow 3rd grade teachers.
HOW DO I USE MY MATH TRI-FOLDS?
Again, it’s not the same each unit. When we were on rounding NBT.1 – there was no way I could use these whole group, I tried and failed.
I used one tri-fold in small group. They were that challenging – which is good, but they needed full teaching assistance.
I completed this tri-fold in small group during our math rotations.
Let’s look at a tri-fold I used during whole group instruction…
Since I only used 2 lessons from Engage NY for time, I supplemented with my own Time tri-folds.
I completed Section 1, 2, and Section 3 whole group. I then moved on to small group and completed the rest of the tri-fold in small group. The focus was on drawing a number line to show time.
HOW DO I USE THE TEXTBOOK?
In this particular unit I did use the textbook. I think I might have used a total of 2 pages from the math book. I pick and choose which questions follow the standards. I like doing this so I don’t overwhelm the students with too many topics. This way I can focus on telling time to the minute, which some students are still struggling with. I plan to place those students on IXL time during their computer station.
HOW DO I ORGANIZE MY GROUPS?
I had a pretty math rotations display on my wall last year, but it required me to move the students and I didn’t like that. So I went old school. I used 3 small pocket charts and used index cards to label my groups. See picture below.
When I made my three groups I looked at:
- Who do I need to meet with 1st thing in the morning? These are my struggling students.
- I need at least 1 person that I think is a very good team player in each teach. Someone who can help during independent work or computer station.
- Are there any students who can’t be in the same group?
I first worked out my plan on paper and then took out index cards and Mr. Sketch markers to make my groups.
WHAT DOES INDEPENDENT PRACTICE LOOK LIKE?
You can kind of see where independent practice in stationed on the picture above. There are three student desks put together by the math rotation display. There are 2 bins where students know what is expected of them. Below is a closer look.
I use these two bins to hold the sheets the students are to complete independently.
- The first sheet has an independent practice sheet that will tell me if the students understood what we went over in whole group instruction. This can be an Exit Ticket from Engage New York or a practice sheet related to the topic. They complete this FIRST – independently (they are allowed to ask a partner for help to get them started, but not the entire sheet) and place in a plastic pocket by the bulletin board labeled ‘DONE’. I check these and students fix any errors if needed during snack time. These are short, so they are easy to check.
- AFTER the exit ticket, they complete a Math Vocabulary Foldable. Student math interactive notebooks are stored in black bins organized by group.
WHAT ABOUT COMPUTER STATION?
My school has purchased a subscription to IXL Math. I have made tracking sheets that the students use to record their scores inside their math notebooks. I have them glue it at the back of their notebook. I also LOVE the website MangaHigh, but I have not let the students know about this site just yet. I want them to become familiar with IXL first.
So basically, I do 3 rotations a day. They last about 20 minutes each. The three rotations include: Teacher, Independent, and Computer. I teach via this model 3 times a week.
Wednesday is a short day, so it’s whole group lesson and partner work that day.Friday is usually some sort of assessment, or we are catching up because we went to the computer lab that morning.
It will never be perfect, but nothing is.
I still feel that this model lets me reach each and every student at their level. I know who ‘gets it’ and who needs more help. I will continue to add to this model and share with you all here!
Also, did anyone notice I haven’t used ANY games yet? I want them to figure out the routine first. We will deal with adding task cards, math games, and other activities later on. I will be sure to keep you posted! Thank you for reading 🙂