Guided Math Part 3: Using Assessment to Group Students for Guided Math

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Assessment is a crucial piece to my guided math instruction.  It is through using the right assessments that I am able to make better use of my time and my student’s time during guided math, teaching kids the concepts that they do not already know or challenge them to dig deeper on concepts they know on a surface level.

Children come into our classrooms at different levels and with different strengths and different struggles.  It is our job throughout the school year to help students capitalize on their strengths and help minimize the gaps on the concepts they are struggling with.

As I begin teaching a new standard I give students a quick pre-assessment to see what knowledge students came into my classroom with.  Pre-assessments can be anything that will be meaningful and help to drive your instruction.  When I first began using assessments in my classroom, I was pulling from a variety of resources which caused a lack of consistency.  I also did not enjoy all of the time I was spending to find the “perfect” assessment.  As a result, I created a pack with each Common Core Standard for First Grade.

All students in my classroom are given a pre-assessment, like the one below, before I start teaching a new standard.  The pre-assessment is an assortment of questions that gives me a better idea of the knowledge students already have when coming into my classroom.  Before giving the pre-assessment we discuss  the “I can” statement and read it together.

After all students have taken the pre-assessment, I grade it and group students for my guided math groups.  I typically break my students into four groups: High, Medium-High, Medium-Low and Low.  There are times where I will have more students in one group and less in another but most times I find my groups end up being fairly equal. 

In order to quickly group students, I give each child a star on their pre-assessment in blue, yellow, brown or green.  These are the colors I use for my guided groups.    

I always make my pre-assessment out of 10 points to make grading easier.  I give students a number correct at the top out of 10 and a colored star.  It completely depends on the standard if I group students by the number correct on the top or if I look at the specific questions and group students based on the specific questions missed.

Now that my students are grouped, based on their strengths and struggles I am ready to teach!  How often you meet with each group will depend on the amount of time you are able to dedicate to guided math.  **Please click here to read about Getting Started with Guided Math for a blog post to help you figure out your timing.**

Every year is slightly different for me depending on scheduling and the needs of the kids but typically I have 15 guided math time slots. Which means I have a little over an hour for math each day.  I do about a 10-15 minute whole group mini lesson.  Then, students break into center groups.  Students go to 3 centers a day (meaning I have 3 guided math groups a day.)  3 Guided Math Groups a Day X 5 Days in a Week = 15 Guided Math Slots.

I meet with my lowest group every day, which gives them 5 times guided math slots.  My medium-low group I meet with 4 times a week.   My medium-high group I meet with about 3 times a week and my highest group I meet with 2 times a week.  That leaves me 1 open slot to pull any students that need extra help for that final slot.

What to teach during guided math is definitely another post on its own (stay tuned,) I will blog about it soon! But continuing with grouping…once my groups are set, in order to better organize myself, I use this easy template below.

On the template, I write the standard and I can statement this way I have easy reference to it when teaching my students.  It is important for my students to know what and why they are learning the standard.  I write student names for each group.  I also write the group’s focus.  I use the pre-assessment to come up with my focus for that particular group-noting any challenges they had or strengths so that I know exactly what I want to teach each group.  The final thing I write is the materials needed so that before math I can quickly look to see who I am meeting with and what materials I need to grab.  
**To grab a blank copy of this template click here.** 

The post-assessment is the fun part!  No, really it is…because you get to see the growth your student’s made over the duration of your teaching.  The post-assessment that I use looks very similar to the pre-assessment.  I typically print the pre and post assessment for each standard back-to-back so that I can easily see the growth that occurred. Below is an example of the post assessment from the same standard as above.

Although the numbers changed from pre to post-assessment the type of questions stayed the same so growth can easily be measured. 
Data is something I struggled with.  It is one thing to keep data on one child within your classroom but to keep track of data for twenty-something students is more challenging.  I knew I needed a quick and easy system to keep track of student progress throughout the school year.  
At the beginning of the year, I create a checklist for each student.  After a standard is covered (and post-assessment has been given) I mark each child’s checklist.  
Mastered:” Student fully understand the concept.
In Progress:”  Student understands the concepts but I am not sure it will carry over when presented in a variety of way and over the school year.
Not Mastered:” Student is still struggling with the concept.
This checklist below is another favorite from the pack because it helps me keep track of the standards I have and have not yet covered.  I can also look to see what skills students might need to review because we haven’t gone over it in a while.

Assessment is a crucial part of teaching.  It helps educators individualize education by teaching students exactly what they are struggling with and/or challenging them in areas they have already mastered.  There are many different kinds and forms of assessment that can be used in the classroom.

All of the printables shown in the pictures above are a part of my Common Core Assessment Pack for First Grade that I use with my first graders to help me assess each of the Common Core Standards as well as helps me keep track of student data with checklists and charts.

In this pack you will find pre and post assessments for each standard, checklists to track student growth and kid-friendly objective posters for each standard.  It is a pack designed to make assessment easy and quick for both teachers and students.  This pack also allows for easy sharing of data amongst teams, parents, and administration.  Even my students like seeing their progress from pre to post assessment!  Click here or on the picture below to see this Common Core Assessment Pack.

Guided math has helped my students grow tremendously as it allows me to better meet each of my student’s needs.  Assessment plays a critical role in guided math as it allows you to group students and again best meet individual needs.

Other Guided Math Posts and Freebies:

Happy Thursday!

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2 thoughts on “Guided Math Part 3: Using Assessment to Group Students for Guided Math”

  1. Amanda! You are genius, the way you do this math. I LOVE the way you adjust the groups to meet with the high need kids more often! PLEASE, what does that look like? Can you show a quickie grid of a typical week just in terms of the group rotations? I'd be so grateful! I couldn't find it in the blog if I missed it…


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