Math in 1st grade is a topic getting lots of attention these days, especially guided math. I couldn’t agree more that it is extremely important to teach guided math in 1st grade. We, as teachers, are always trying to improve our students’ learning process. We want to be able to help and give as many students as possible individualized instruction to help them reach their potential. Guided math may be able to do that for your learners!
What Is Guided Math in 1st Grade?
Guided math in 1st grade is very similar to guided reading. During guided reading, teachers take small groups of similarly leveled learners and work with them on material that will help them grow. While the teacher is meeting with one group, there are other groups working on stations around the room to improve reading skills as a small group or independently without teacher assistance. Guided math works similarly. A classroom would have whole group guided math time in small groups instead of the traditional idea of the teacher standing in front of the whole class for the entirety of the math class. I also love ending my small groups with a fun math game to review the learning that day. My students, of course, love it too!
Pros Of Guided Math
Guided math in 1st grade has a lot of pros. For one, it’s a lot harder to spot learning gaps in individual students in a whole group lesson. In small groups the teacher gets a better idea of who needs help and who needs enrichment. In whole group it’s not as easy or as quick to check student’s work. Also, in a small group setting you get more rich discussion from student’s and students that may not talk in large groups may tend to speak up more with only 4 or 5 other students listening.
The best benefit of guided math groups is differentiated instruction. Help your struggling learners with some small group or individualized time to go over the concepts they don’t understand. You can finally take the time to sit down and understand where they are getting lost in your lessons. Sometimes, saying the same thing in a new way with one more example will help your learners finally understand the concept you’re teaching. Meet your learners where they are and help them feel successful while encouraging their math skills to grow. Check out this free word problem as an example of the ways you can use differentiated instruction in your guided math groups. If you want some easy tips to start differentiating today check out this blog post!
Once your students are ready to move onto a new concept, take a moment to show them what they have learned. With my 1st Grade Guided Math Addition and Subtraction Strategies, you will find challenges included. You can use these challenges as a check of skills learned, as a project to work on as a group, or as a reward activity for mastering a new skill. Students love to show off what they’ve learned, especially if they’ve had to work for it.
Cons of Guided Math in 1st Grade
While there are many pros of guided math including small group time to meet with students, the ability to differentiate math instruction, and the fact that your students get to practice math facts at stations, there are also cons. Whole group math time is potentially easier for the teacher and students. The teacher only has to prepare one lesson, teach it in front of the class, and assign one homework. In guided math, teachers may prepare several lessons depending on where each group of students falls, homework varies, and the time commitment to planning may increase.
If you want to teach guided math in your 1st grade classroom but just don’t have the time to create all of the different components and levels then let me help. I have created a year long differentiated guided math curriculum for 1st grade. I can shave off hours of frustration over planning these lessons and give you daily leveled plans, questions to ask, challenges, games, independent practice and much more!
While guided math may not be for everyone and every school system, it has some great potential. Differentiated learning to meet students where they are and work with small groups is important. Math is one of those subjects where falling behind is easy and falling further behind is even easier. Math builds on itself and in order to succeed, concepts need to be mastered before moving on. Guided math gives students an extra chance that whole group math may not by making teachers more available for struggling students to ask questions and increase their understanding. Start working guided math into your schedule to help those struggling students in your class today!