Math Monday: Guided Math Q & A

Last Monday I posted about how Guided Math and how I make it work in my own classroom. 
Today I wanted to answer some questions about Guided Math.

Do you change stations every week?
I have six stations in all. But Mondays we have library during our math time so my stations really get changed once every 7 days.  One station is work at the computer on a math game. Another station is iPads. I just have four math tubs for partner games. 

Of course you can adjust the number of stations/math tubs to fit your needs.

How long is my math block?
My math block is only an hour long. It takes a little practice but keeping to a short mini-lesson is so important. In ten minutes you can absolutely review vocabulary and teach new steps to a skill. I did have a little more leeway with only three math groups. I was able to spend a little more time with groups as I needed. The down side was having larger groups. I keep myself on track by using the timer on my iPhone. We use text tones to rotate with. Our current tone is We Were Us with Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban. The kids love it! They just sing, clean up, and bounce along to their next station.

What do you do to keep kids engaged? Do your kids get restless mid-week?
My students only get to do each center one time unless it's one I feel they could repeat. Since they only go to one partner game per day they usually do well. It took lots of practice and acting out good and bad scenarios at the start of the school year for my students to understand my expectations. I go over my expectations frequently. For students who don't follow instructions or don't behave as a partner they have a consequence. Sometimes that consequence is not being able to go to math stations. Instead they just have seat work. I use Mel D's warm fuzzies system in my classroom and I love it! It's an easy way to enforce great behavior for kids that are doing an outstanding job.

 *Students don't want or need to do a worksheet at every station. Sorting odd and even numbers is an important skill. Greater than less than stations are great too. I made a hot cocoa themed greater than/less than station in my North Pole Math Centers and my kids loved it. Of course some stations have a recording sheet and that's ok.

How do you make sure your students are doing the math stations correctly?
I keep my stations simple, simple, simple. Although I have a small carpet in my room I only allow one set of partners to be on the carpet at one time. The other partners spread out. You KNOW when students are fooling around...they aren't good at hiding it! With students that I know will struggle with new stations I find time to call them over and do the station with them and their partner prior to putting it in our rotation. Then they feel special because they already had the chance to try it out. If you are lucky enough to have parent volunteers this is a great way to involve them! Parents can monitor groups and feel good seeing what their child is expected to do at school.

Do you do assessments during Guided Math?
Our chapter tests are really short. I do those assessments during Guided Math but the stations are not timed during assessments. We switch stations when my groups are done with their test. Students who finish a partner game are supposed to play it again. If they finish their independent work they can work on other work that is unfinished, or read a book. Again, I talk about my expectations frequently. Students who are misbehaving during this time go to time out, sit at their desks, or owe me a fuzzy. I make note of who is following instructions and in between rotations I reward students who have done well and met my expectations. "Thank you Kelly, Amy, Jack, and Joey for working so hard with your partners. Thank you Angie and Mike for working so quietly while we finished our tests!"

*During math benchmarks students do NOT have Guided Math. I give my tests in small group because test taking is a skill and they don't have much experience in taking big tests. I usually give my students some options. They like some type of word search and math color by number activity.

Involve your students in your decisions!
I speak to my class like they are little adults. They want to feel important and your classroom is their classroom too! Being a part of the decision making process goes a long way in having your stations run smoothly. We discuss how noise can effect concentration. I encourage my students to help each other without giving someone an answer. We model what that looks like. When we have big tests or time crunches I give my students options about how we can proceed. Do they want to do two lessons since we have an assembly and double math stations on Friday? What would they like to work on during our math benchmark? One of their favorite rewards is math races or read-a-thons. "Wow! Y'all did an amazing job at your stations today and yesterday so we will spend the last ten minutes of the day doing math races!" Our read-a-thons are simple. Kids can bring in as many books as they want. They can share with their neighbors. We spread out and "lounge" around the room reading. Lounging is not different than sitting around the room except lounging is way cooler. {wink!}

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I've been attempting to do math stations this year but have not been overly happy with how things were going. Your post not only helped me figure out a couple of things but it also reaffirmed a thing or two. Thank you!
    Hopelessly Devoted to Teaching