Guided Math Chapter 5

Welcome to Guided Math Chapter 5: Using Guided Math with Small Groups

My take away from this chapter was that small group math instruction is the perfect place to provide all students with access to core instruction. This means you have to differentiate the what (curriculum) not change it. Small group math gives you the time to do that--just like you would in Guided Reading.  

This got me thinking about how flexible, needs based grouping affect student learning. I know with guided reading, students move all the time. Why could the same not happen with math. My building has been playing with adding small math groups to the math block. You'll see the schedule below. But I do know that when you group students by math need and provide them time/practice to access core they do get it. They get it and it shows everywhere when they do. 

Why Small Group Math?
The Kids 
 Learn at their ability level
Experience Success
Grow in Self esteem 
Enjoy math 
Gain new understandings
Are allowed frequent movement 
Participate in activities of appropriate length
The Teacher
Knows exactly where each kid stands
Has time to work with individuals in small groups
Has less frustration
Uses time more efficiently

Small Group Math Instruction allows you to address the needs of your class, in a way that targets students’ strength and needs, tailor instruction to provide the specific instruction that best challenges all learners. Students receive the support they need to expand their understanding and improve their math understanding.  Fountas and Pinnell say this about small group instruction, "in the comfort and safety of a small group, students learn how to work with others, how to attend to shared information, and how to ask questions or ask for help." For students who struggle with math learning these things is key for their success. Small group math allows teachers to challenge all learners by providing instruction at varied levels of difficulty and with scaffolding based on needs.  Small group math instruction lends itself to differentiation. It fits perfectly into the Gradual Release Strategy that is used in Guided Reading.

One example of how students could be grouped is from low to high. 
The low group starts with the teacher at the Work With Teacher Station. This group is met with first, so that they are taught the lesson before being asked to work independently or play a game related to the concept I am teaching.  I use a small dry erase board or the interactive whiteboard for my instruction, and the students sit in front of me on the carpet.  They bring their math journal with them because I often have them work on the math journal pages with me during the lesson. This would be the time to provide remedial instruction for students as well. 

The medium group starts at the Math Games Station.  They are often playing the game that is part of that day's Math lesson, but they may also be playing a game that they have played in the past that corresponds to the concepts in the unit.  Sometimes students are also doing projects at this center, especially during the fraction and geometry units. 

The high group starts at the Independent Practice Station.  I have them start at this station because they are often able to do the math journal pages without much instruction.  Each day, they are asked to complete the journal pages that correspond to the lesson I will be teaching.  The high group is also given a math packet created by our "Gifted and Talented" teacher because they often finish the math journal pages before it is time to rotate to the next station.

Depending on the need of the students, like in guided reading, you may not meet with all three groups every day. But you need to meet with every group at least once a week. You may meet with your lowest group four of five days, the next lowest group three of five days, the middle group two of five days and your high group only once. 
Daily Schedule for Math Block
I have one hour and 30 minutes scheduled for math each day (90 minutes).  Below is how my building uses that time.

Number Talks: (8–10 minutes) As a building we use Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies, Grades K–5 By: Sherry Parrish 

Lesson Introduction & Directions: 15 minutes) During this time, I briefly introduce the concept I will be teaching for the day, announce any materials they will need to do their daily work (rulers, protractors, etc.), and explain the game that students will be playing at the Games Station (if necessary).

Rotation #1: (20 minutes)
Rotation #2: (20 minutes)
Rotation #3: (20 minutes)
Closing: (5 minutes) At the end of math, I call the class back together quickly to reinforce the day's concept.  If there is time, we will correct the daily math journal page as a class.

I have included two videos examples of what guided math can look like in classrooms.

I have created a Small Group Lesson Plan Template to help in your planning for Small Group Math.

A couple of questions to get the juices flowing:
1) Do you use Guided Reading, how can you use that idea to work in small group math to accommodate all learners? What would be easy? More difficult to adapt?
2) What data do you already have that would help you create those groups?

Using Formative Assessment to Monitor Progress

Have you every asked: "Are there any questions?", "Are you all with me?", "Am I going to fast?. 

We are all guilty about checking for students understanding this way. These are not ways to check for student understanding. Checking for understanding means that students are able to use knowledge and skills in new situations in the correct way. While recall important information is important it's the same as memorizing the information.

Progress monitoring helps you to know if students are on track to make goals. I know because of the way I have set up my progress monitoring, it takes me a day to get through everyone. Formative assessment is another way to collect data about the connections students are making, about the levels of thinks they are doing, and about the clues they are picking up from my teaching about what is important.  Formative assessment is about giving students growth producing feedback and have the opportunity to make adjustments to their work based on that feedback before the end of the unit.

One way that's quick and I can look at latter are Exit Slips. Exit Slips are written responses to questions the teacher poses at the end of a lesson or a class to assess student understanding of key concepts.  They should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and are taken up as students leave the classroom.  I can quickly determine which students have it, which ones need a little help, and which ones are going to require much more instruction on the concept.  By assessing the responses on the Exit Slips I can better adjust the instruction in order to accomodate students' needs for the next class. 

My favorite is 3-2-1 (Three things I learned, Two things I found interesting, and One question I still have).  I have created these forms I just hand them to students to fill out before they leave but you could also create an anchor chart and they use their own paper for it. I also use mine to have students rate their focus and effort.  With this check in I can change what I'm doing without having to take a day to progress monitor my students. Plus, its quick and doesn't take any extra time for them to do. I can use the data I collect to monitor progress and behavior.
3-2-1 Exit Slip Windshield Formative Assessment

Pete the Cat plus a Freebie

I wanted to share about a great giveaway that Heather's Heart is having. This giveaway has several Pete the Cat units, that have been created by several wonderful bloggers. Make sure to pop by before this Wednesday Midnight.

I'm been busy working on many different things for the fall. Here's a new Make 10 for you to enjoy. What are putting together for this fall?

Making 10 Goldfish Math

Mighty Vocabulary

"When we say word study is developmental, we mean that the study of word features must match the level of  the learner. Word study is not a one-size-fits-all program of instruction that begins in one place for all students within a grade level. One unique quality of word study as we describe it lies in what we believe is the critical role of differentiating instruction for levels of word knowledge." (Bear at all, 2004 from Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction.)

What does research tell us about vocabulary?
  • Vocabulary assists students in expanding their knowledge to raise achievement.
  • Vocabulary development increases when students have visual images of word meaning and when the words are categorized into groups.  
  • In order to understand  spoken or written words a student must know 95% of the words.
  • The creation of labels is a tool for fostering new perceptions and increasing learning.
  • It takes a minimum of 15 encounters with a new word for a student to understand and apply the word independently.  
What are effective vocabulary strategies?

  • Awareness of words
  • Wide reading and extensive writing
  • Strategies for independently inferring word meanings from context
  • Direct instruction of vocabulary and vocabulary related skills  
In a standards based world, where students have trouble understanding what words mean from the context, you have to directly teach them. There are so many words that I could teach with so little time remember I have to pick those words wisely.  Taking the time to provide direct vocabulary instruction is important for my students because I know that they don't do a whole lot of reading at home and it will strength their decoding and comprehension. Plus vocabulary is not one of their strengths.

One of my favorite ways to teach new vocabulary, is using Robert Marzano's 6 Steps to teach vocabulary.  His WIKIillustrates the six steps. I love this because I can use his 6 steps as an assessment it also gets students talking about words. It engages my students in vocabulary (an area that is not a strength) and they have fun with it. My students love activities at allow them to draw and not get busted for it. Marzano's 6 Steps take time so it forces you to choose you words very carefully.

Another powerful thing to include when teaching is non-linguistic representations. This can be pictures, graphic organizers, Thinking Maps, etc. The students make connections that make sense to them. I always have to use a timer or they think they have forever. Its meant to be quick.

A favorite of my students is Draw it!.  You'll find that Draw it! relies on students non-linguistic representations of words and not their ability to explain what the words mean to play the game. I use it more as a review game but you'll find one below for First grade math terms. I'll be talking more about vocabulary throughout the summer. 

Drop me a comment about how you teach vocabulary in your room.

Happy Friday--Progress Monitoring

Last Friday, I explained the basics behind progress monitoring. I want to share one way I have found to keep both me and my students focused that's by using SMART goals. 

S: Specific, Significant, & SimpleGoals need to be specific. To set a specific goal set a well defined goal. 

M: Measurable & Manageable: Goals need to be measurable. How will you measure your success? 
A: Attainable & AppropriateGoals need to be attainable. Be ambitious. Don’t settle for average results.R: Relevant, Results-focused, & Results-oriented: Goals need to be relevant and results oriented. Is the goal relevant to your career, business or personal goals? Be honest in the evaluation of yourself.
T: Time-bound: Goals need to have a time-frame. Make sure to consider the time it will take you to complete your goal by setting a time-frame and timeline to complete the goal. Be wise and give yourself enough time to complete the goal.
My students set their own SMART goals. I give them the structure and they have to come up with the goal and how long they think it will take them to make it. I try to encourage them to make is attainable but if they shoot high and miss--we work through that. They get better at the more they do them. I usually try to keep them to no longer than 6 week goals or they get lost in the shuffle. Goals are tied to the intervention they are working on with me and students only get one goal per period. Since all intervention and exceptional needs students have goals in our online student intervention database, the goals match this as well. I try to keep everything aligned because I want the students to do the data collection. 
I always do the timed piece of the students goal but they are  responsible for graphing, tracking, and reflection. If they have to make predictions before hand they take care of that too. I have done this many different ways over the years since I work primarily in small groups I tend to take one day a week and do all  my progress monitoring at once. This ensures that I don't miss anyone and it gives students enough time to take care of their SMART goals.  Student SMART goals are placed in their binders on a blank sheet of paper, so I get type them out and the student tapes them down. An example is: By (DATE), (STUDENT NAME) will increase the number of words read correctly by (STUDENT SETS GOAL) a week as measured by grade level oral reading fluency drill. At the end of the monitoring period, everything comes out and we see if they made it. The form below help keep students on track every week. They have their graphs to help them determine how much they need to improve by each week. This forms are for oral reading fluency. One is Intermediate and the other is primary. They are in a student friendly goal making format. Students turn them then weekly with their graphs, so I can share the information with teachers and parents. How do you share students progress monitoring data with parents?
Intermediate Fluency Smart Goal Primary Fluency Smart Goal

Guided Math Book Study

Grab your highlighter and stickies. Bring your questions. Get ready to join myself and a fabulous group of bloggers to take an in-depth look at Laney Sammons's "Guided Math." I'll be co-hosting Chapter 5. Head on over to Primary Inspired this week to get started.

I've create a new basic addition math game that can be used at home or at school. My students love playing anything "High Speed."  This game has helped my students learn the basic addition facts and master them. Once my students learn how to play the game, ask to take it home and practice so they can "beat" someone in class. The progress monitoring tools help them to see their progress and its easy enough that they can track their own progress each week. With them doing their own progress monitoring, I have seen more growth and way more by-in, than when I do it myself. They own the data and celebrate their progress. For more on progress monitoring see my previous post last Friday.  Here's a sample for you. You can find the full version at my TpT Store.

High Speed Plus 5 Addition Facts

Friday--Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring. What's to say. Some do it without thinking about it. While others of us run and hide. Some think that in a data rich environment that there's no need. This may be true but if you had prove how students were responding to instruction, could you? In an Response to Intervention Model (RTI) it has to be done.

What is progress monitoring?
Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to assess students’ academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or an entire class.

The benefits are great for everyone involved. Some benefits include:
  •  accelerated learning because students are receiving more appropriate instruction;
  • more informed instructional decisions;
  • documentation of student progress for accountability purposes;
  • more efficient communication with families and other professionals about students’ progress;
  • higher expectations for students by teachers; and
  • fewer Special Education referrals.

Overall, the use of progress monitoring results in more efficient and appropriately targeted instructional techniques and goals, which together, move all students to faster attainment of important state standards of achievement.

Another reason to progress monitor students is RTI. 
The problem-solving approach is as fundamental to the success of the Response to Intervention Model. In the problem solving approach, problems are identified (clarified in terms of target and actual performance); strategies are developed to address them; measurements are designed to evaluate progress; plans for who will do what, when and where are devised; plans are carried out; results are evaluated; and the ensuing analysis informs the next round of instruction and intervention. Progress monitoring assessments are essential to evaluating students' progress and evaluating students' results.
I always ask myself two questions when I look at student progress monitoring data:
  1. is she making progress towards a grade-level expectation or long-term goal?
  2. is she making progress towards mastery of a targeted skill?
District-wide curriculum-based measures (CBM) are often used by teachers to answer the first question, while teacher-made probes often provide data to answer the second question. While often confused with curriculum-based assessment, curriculum-based measures are a particular type of standardized assessments that allow a teacher to determine students' progress toward long-term goals. 

CBM's monitor student progress through direct, continuous assessment of basic skills (ie: letter name fluency, reading fluency, maze comprehension, spelling, math calculations). Students are presented multidimensional probes that integrate various skills that students need to meet grade-level expectations. For example, three times a year benchmarks to determine the number of words correct per minute a child can read on a grade-level text. Examples of curriculum-based measures include Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), Monitoring Basic Skills Progress (MBSP) and AIMSweb. 

Progress monitoring goes beyond timed one minute drills. It also includes rubrics, pre/post tests, and quizzes. Just about anything can be used to show whether students are getting it or not.  

Over the last year, I have begun having students create their own goal. They last no more that 4 weeks. This helps with by-in and encourages them to continue to improve. I found that once students know how to graph their own data, they can do it. So I let them. I also have created graphs that have students predict how they will do and then complete the monitoring--students graphing both. At the beginning of the year, students are way, way off with their predictions but by Thanksgiving the two numbers begin to match up.

I also prefer graphs that are in five to six week segments. This makes it easier for students to see their progress and it's easier for students to use on their own.  Each Friday in June, I will post about the tricks and tools I use to make progress monitoring manageable and student/parent friendly. What progress monitoring tricks and tools have you found that you use with your students?

This freebie, has progress monitoring tools attached and a graph for sight words where you can have students predict how well they will do. Enjoy.
Sight Word Fluency Prediction and Record Sheet
Tic Tac -At Word Family

End of the Year

It's hard to believe that the 6th graders I had this year are moving on. After three years of pushing and pulling, to help them learn to love learning. Being so close to grade level to read what their friends were reading, always made everyone smile.

Next year, the team will departmentalize K-2 and 3-6. This will be new to our building leadership. When I started teaching 8 years ago, I worked in a school that was departmentalized. I'm not sure how kindergarten will work, since grade level do reading at the same time; kindergarten is wanting to keep four teachers in the room for reading. (My school is small-two classrooms at each grade.) I think it will depend on how the master schedule gets laid out.  My school uses its Title funds to provide two teachers that go into all classrooms to provide extra reading support. In kindergarten, everyone supports doing the Daily 5 block to ensure that every students is with an adult during reading.  Currently, I don't know which block I have. I'll have to wait until I go back in the fall.

I have a long list of things that I wish to tackle before fall, SMART board things, books to read (Guided Math and Visible Learning for Teachers), and things to share with everyone along the way. Oh, and a nap or two along the way.  What do you hope to get done before going back in the fall?

Wishing everyone a restful and stress free summer.
Beginning Letter Path KLJVYZ

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.

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