Guided math groups vary when students are in group with you. You will be working on skills that need extra practice with some groups and enriching other groups. If you want some quick and easy tips on differentiating your guided math groups then check out this blog post. Sometimes math small groups will go smoothly and sometimes they will be rough. Find out why I would always choose guided math over whole group math here!
You, as the teacher, need the focus to teach the small group and know that the rest of your class is busy and won’t interrupt your guided math groups.
High expectations for guided math centers
The class should work together to make a list of expectations for guided math time if you haven’t done so already. Things like what volume level is expected and when to bother the teacher should be explicitly outlined.
Students also need to know the specific expectations for each center. As you introduce each guided math group station to your students, make sure they know what to do at each station. With young learners, step-by-step instructions are best. Make sure each student knows exactly what to work on in the center and that all questions are answered. The better your students know what they are supposed to do at the station, the fewer interruptions in your guided math groups.
As first graders, your students are familiar with enough words that you can create a one-page laminated instruction sheet. You may even want to add pictures to reiterate the directions on the page. This way your students don’t need to bother your guided math groups. Include things in the rules like where to find materials and whether or not the work should be done independently, in partners, or as a small group. Check this post out to find out why guided math is so important in 1st grade.
What do you want students to do when they are done with a center?
When students are done with the work at a center, you need to make sure they know what to do with their completed work. Do you want the work to go in their backpacks, desks, homework turn-in bin, leave it at the station, or recycle it? These are questions your students will bother you with while you are meeting with your guided math groups.
Wherever completed work should go, make sure your students know. Repeat yourself a few times when explaining stations. First graders don’t read a lot of words super well, but include an instruction sheet with pictures on what to do with their work and where to put it upon completion.
Where can students find activities to do if there is extra time?
The centers you have designed for guided math group time are very detailed. You have made sure there are enough activities that should take the student the full time of the guided math rotation. However, some students will finish early.
No matter how many times you tell them to take their time and do their best work, some students will fly through the guided math center and be ready for the next activity to entertain them. In order to avoid this, have extra activities ready. Print off a few games, practice sheets, or challenges for your students from my First Grade Guided Math Addition and Subtraction Strategies. In addition to material for your guided math groups, you will find extra practice for your students who will inevitably finish early.
For more great ideas about guided math groups, join my mailing list for free tips and tricks. Right now, you’ll find a free math activity to try out and add to your math small groups. There are lots of ways to prepare for guided math in your classroom. It may be a learning curve to see what works best for your students.
The biggest thing is to make sure your students are busy during guided math groups. This way you and your small group are left to work for as much of the time allotted as possible. Keep your students busy and following directions so everyone is benefiting from the guided math groups and rotations! Guided math is so important in 1st grade so making sure to make the most out of this time is crucial!