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Using Guided Math with Small Groups

Photobucket Welcome to Chapter 5!

Two fabulous bloggers are hosting Chapter 5.

  Be sure to click over there if you haven't already to read more about Using Guided Math with Small Groups.

I think we all know the benefits working with small groups gives us in works the same with math! What strikes me in this chapter is the fact that each group doesn't necessarily have to get an equal amount of time. Maybe it's just me, but I've always been under the impression that every group should have the same amount of meeting time. But listen to this: the amount of time you spend with each group varies according to the needs of the kiddos. Sometimes, I've had groups that needed a much longer time than others, but I felt guilty not giving everyone the same. I'm telling you, it was a BIG problem! I was constantly working and re-working my schedule to try & get that equal time in there! I'm feeling very relieved to know that it's okay to spend more time with that group that needs it, and it's okay to just check in with a group if that's all they need.  The big goal here is to "teach at the point of need of each group, nudging...students forward along the continuum of mathematical understanding" (Sammons, p. 136).

So, let's talk about effective uses of small group instruction
  1. Differentiating -- small groups provide the perfect vehicle for providing differentiated instruction!
  2. Addressing HOT SPOTS -- within the small group, you're more able to intensively teach those hot spots (those tricky concepts we all have at each grade level). Kiddos get more intensive teaching with you, and you are able to closely monitor understanding.
  3. Using manipulatives -- it's so much easier & quicker to distribute manipulatives in a small group (& monitoring their use!)
  4. Formative assessment -- since you're working closely with students in a small group, you can easily monitor understanding.
SO-- how do we form those small groups??
I appreciate that Sammons says there is no one correct way to group students, & that usually a combination of assessments work best. You can use unit pre-tests, formative tests, performance tasks, and your observations and conversations with your kiddos. 

The small group lesson
  1. Introduce the lesson with a brief mini lesson.
  2. Give students a clear understanding of the activity they'll be doing & set the criteria for success. (I'm not so sure I do this. Sometimes, I'm feeling so pressed for time that I'm afraid I just jump right into the activity).
  3.  Encourage the use of multiple strategies.
  4. Give just enough support to move students to the next level.
  5. Give plenty of time for math discussion!!
  6. Give kiddos specific, descriptive feedback & encourage self-assessment. 
How do you picture small group math instruction in your classroom? Do you do all the steps, or are you like me & skip some or zoom through them so you can 'get everything in'? Sometimes I feel like this little guy right here!

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