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.
*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.
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