Guided Math: Part 2 (Accountability and Management)

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I am linking up with Jivey (a little late I know!) because I simply love getting all kinds of ideas from her weekly workshops!  In July, Jivey is looking for others to link up with tools and resources your need to get started in reading, writing and math.  This post discusses how I start-up and manage my math workshop time!  To go see many more fabulous tips and tricks go visit Jivey at Ideas by Jivey!
Accountability and management are two critical parts to your guided math instructional time.   In my opinion, it is these two components that will either make or break your guided math time.  
Accountability is extremely important to me.  I want to know and trust that my students are working their hardest at all times throughout the school day.  Teaching to small groups of children, as opposed to whole group, can only be successful if students are using the rest of their time (center time) wisely as well.  
Management is something that I still think a lot about.  Each year I make changes and adjustments to meet the needs of my students.  Last year, it seemed as though I was making those changes all the way through the end of March in order to figure out “what worked” with my group of students.  I got there, it just took a long time!  I am hoping this next year my group will adjust a little bit quicker.  
Accountability of Math Centers:
In order for you to be able to make the most of the time you have with your small groups it is important to know that the other students in your classroom are hard at work even when they are not working directly with you. 
In all honesty, technology makes holding students accountable much easier.  It is a simple way I can know what students are working on even when they are not working in my small group.  
On many of the computer programs we have I can simply log-in as a teacher and see exactly how much time they spent working on the program, answering questions correctly and see the skills they still need help with.  
Technology is used daily in my centers.  I know when students are not working with me directly I can always check online after math to see exactly what they were working and how they were doing.  To see some of the programs and other technology I use daily during math click here.
Hands-on Math Centers:
My first graders use a lot of technology (it genuinely amazes me all that they can do) but they also spend a lot of their time using hands-on manipulatives and working with partners during math. Working with others gives children the opportunity to talk through their mathematical thinking.  The common core digs a lot deeper into mathematics and even at a very early age students need to be able to explain their thinking to others.  
In order to make sure that my students are working hard during math centers I always require them to bring along their whiteboards.  Even if I forget to tell them, my students all know the importance of bringing along their whiteboards and rarely forget to go to a center without them.  
The reason why whiteboards are crucial is because they allow me to quickly glance up from my guided math group to see if kids are working or not in their centers.  I can see based on how many math problems are on their whiteboards if they have been trying their best or goofing around.  I can also quickly glance as we transition from center to center (before they wipe them off) to make sure students are understanding the skills and concepts they are practicing. 
Below are several different types of centers that you will see students using their whiteboards for.  Whiteboards can work with, I dare to say, any center!  Students simply use the whiteboard quickly to record any kind of math problem they solve during their independent center time. 
Building a tower!  Each student chooses a math flash card, writes the number sentence and then gets to choose one block to add to the tower.  
Playing Bump! Each student rolls the dice, write the math equation and then places his/her counter on the correct number.
Students match the addition and subtraction sentences with the correct cards.  Every them they match a number sentence they write it on their whiteboard.  
Playing Math War!  Students each pull a card, write the math equation on their own board.  The student with the highest sum gets to keep all of the cards.  
Playing “Roll, Write, and Color.”  Students roll dice, write the addition sentence on their whiteboard,  and color the appropriate object.  
Whiteboard Rules:
*Keep all writing on the board (no erasing until centers are finished.)  If a student runs out of room they can either write smaller, flip it over, or borrow a friend’s whiteboard…no erasing!
*Every time a child pulls a card, rolls dice, ect. a number sentence should be written.
*Each student at the center needs his/her own whiteboard.   
*You are only responsible for writing your own math problems (not your partner’s.)
*If you have a board you are proud of-show me at the end of center time!
Significance of Whiteboard:
I know the idea of a whiteboard is a simple idea but it is a simple idea that has made a difference in my classroom especially during my centers.  They allow me to stay focussed on my small group and at the same time be able to glance around quickly to make sure all of my other students are on task and understanding the skills they are practicing.   
Guided Instruction Management:
Once students are able to work independently at their centers I begin pulling groups of children back with me to my “jelly bean table.”  Just like anything else, instead of jumping into instruction, I now need to teach them the rules and routines of our guided instruction time.  
We begin by discussing why this small group time is so important for both the students as well as me.  I explain to students that this is the time I get to really know them as a learner (which is one of my favorite things to do!)  My enthusiasm for this special time is usually contagious and students talk about why the like getting to spend time with me in a small group too!  Then, we get serious!!! 
I explain to my kiddos that in order for us to all be successful during guided groups we need to decide upon a few rules.  We create our very own “Guided Group Rules.”   
At the start of guided instruction time (reading or math,) I take about 30 seconds to refer back the poster (especially in the beginning to help remind students of our rules.)  As the year goes on, the poster hangs back by my jelly bean table but is only take out when needed.   
To grab this freebie as a click here

I will be doing a couple more guided math posts as the summer continues-so make sure to check back here soon!
Other Guided Math Posts and Freebies:

Happy Sunday!
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10 thoughts on “Guided Math: Part 2 (Accountability and Management)”

  1. This is a great post!! Thanks so much for linking up! I love your description of whiteboards' importance!

    PS I went to reply to you about Aimee Buckner but it said you were a no-reply blogger! 🙁 I think it would still be very appropriate for you to read if you use notebooks. She gives such great ideas for things to put in them and ways to grade them- but she WAS a 4th grade teacher so it is higher than your class. Hope that helps!
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! 🙂

  2. I really want to change my math time into guided math but am so scared to give up the control. How many students are in your typical class and how many groups do you make? Are some of your groups larger in size than others? Lastly, how long do you meet with each group?

  3. If it is something you are thinking about doing…jump in- I think it is worth giving it a try!

    Last year I had 28 students in my classroom so I did 4 groups of 7. Although the groups are a little bit bigger than I would like it allowed me to meet with each group most days which I really liked. I meet with groups for about 15 minutes or so. 🙂 For more of the initial start up trying clicking the link above that says, "Guided Math: Part 1 (Getting Started)

    Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  4. I love the whiteboards and how much you seem to have your students creating their own record sheet. I feel like kids miss out on a lot these days when ALL games come with record sheets. Kids never get to learn this important skill and their teacher spends all of their time running to the copier.

    I am enjoying these guided math posts so much! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    The Math Maniac

  5. Great information! We began a new series last year and I struggled to wrap my brain around incorporating the small groups. I have made it a goal this year to use guided math to reach all of my students. I look forward to reading your other posts. Where do you get you center ideas? The ones included in our series tend to be too simplistic and don't occupy their time sufficiently or overly complicated and confusing. Also, how,often do you change out the centers? Lastly, do you also have a seat work part to the rotation? Ok, those are all of my questions for now. Thanks again for the great info and the motivation to make it work in my classroom.

  6. You are so SMART! Who would have thought to tell the kids to not erase??? We use whiteboards a lot, but I've never thought to use them for accountability! I also love your ideas on teaching how to be in the small group. I always assume they know that part…

  7. I read where you never send students to play math games without showing them first or modeling. So when do you teach students how to play the math game for that week during your 80 minute block?


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