Planning and Organizing

So, What is Everyone Else Doing?

Math Games and Activities

Guided Math Presentation

Building in Math Review

Great Resources

Guided Math in Other Teacher's Classrooms


    I feel really odd actually even adding this page to the site.  I am far from a math expert and am even further from even being considered strong in my math teaching!!  However, one of the reasons I even have this website is because I use it as a reflection tool and I really feel it helps me become better at what I do.  So, this page will be a great illustration of HOW MUCH reflecting I will need to do in order to be effective  (read: A LOT!)!!!!

     In my entire career I have only taught math for a year and a half.  Then I started team teaching and only taught the language arts, which is why most of this site revolves around reading. This year I am teaching math for the first time in about five or six years!  Luckily, it is only second grade math and  I feel I have a good handle on the material.  When I taught fourth, I was clueless when we hit fractions!!!

      I really feel that small group math instruction is the way to go. I suppose my background in reading is the reason for this; I tend to approach teaching with a reading frame of mind. Since my first year of teaching  math (and only year since this year!!) I taught it whole group, this page will be a reflection of how I organize small math groups in my room.  Much of the way that I organize my math block and small groups is from watching my very talented former teammate (who is now a math coach- go figure!). So I really cannot take credit for much of the structure/ organization of this block- I have simply copied from others!


Below is my weekly schedule.  Just like my reading, I approach math with a combination of small group and whole group instruction.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Whole group lesson.  Math mini lesson

Meet with two small math groups



Math mini lesson

Meet with two small math groups



Math mini lesson

Meet with two small math groups



Whole group lesson. 

Here is a more detailed break down of my week:

Monday-  I try to teach a short minilesson in math.  This my be something with the calendar or the hundreds board. Then I usually teach the kids a some sort of math game.  I show the students how to play the game and then allow the students time to pair up and practice playing the game.  While students are playing, I wander around trying to help or reteach how to play the game.  It is a great way to see how the students think and how they interact with others. After we practice the game I call kids back to their seats and they take some sort of assessment.  Usually it is a preassesment that I use to see what kids know so I can put them into groups.  It is just something I make up.  Usually four questions about what I am going to teach.  When I am in the middle of a unit, then it is a assessment to see what I taught recently and I grade it to see what I need to reteach.  I have created longer assessments, that cover the whole unit.  However, this takes longer for the kids to take and I have less time for the game.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday- I teach some sort of minilesson.  This can be something with the manipulatives, calendar or hundreds board.  I haven't really mastered this part yet!  I am still working on this! Then we break into small math groups.  Students are divide into 3-4 different groups, depending on how students did on the preassesment from Monday.  Sometimes I can do three groups, others I need four groups.  I pull a group.  The other groups are either playing math games (I have taught them several by now and  I introduce a new one every Monday) or doing seat work. I spend about 20 minutes with the first group and then another group comes to the table. The other students then switch to playing math games or seatwork.

Friday-I am trying to get in an exemplar every Friday.  So far this school year, I have done one, but I think I am more on a schedule now. I also try to give end of unit assessments on Fridays.  Exemplars are heavy duty word problems that my school has purchased.  They really encourage children to solve problems with pictures, manipulatives and  finding their "own" way to figure the answer.

Planning and Organizing


This is an area I am still learning. This weekend I came up with this planning sheet.  I am hoping it will help me keep my math groups and planning organized and contained to one sheet of paper! I just created it, so I am not sure how well it will work!!!

Planning Sheet

     I am hoping that this one sheet will last the whole week. The very tops will have all the information for who is in a certain group.  The table on the top will be the list of rotations through seatwork, centers and groups.  The bottom half will help keep my organized as far as what I am doing in the small groups.  The one thing I would like to add is a section to write what I am doing each day in whole group.  I have have to work on this...!


     I have updated my math groups planning sheet.  I simply added an area for the whole group lesson for the day.  I have once again updated this form.  Now I only do whole group on Fridays as a general rule.  However, please note that I do not ONLY use guided math groups ALL the time.  For example I am about to teach measurement and this will all be done whole group- I like to mix things up! On the back of this form I also have an observation sheet so I can write notes down about each student and notes about what to next for the group.

Assessing and Organizing

     After I give my pre-assessment, I quickly score the sheets.  Then I look for common errors and try to sort into similar stacks.  I like to have between three to four stacks. Each stack is a guided math group.  If I give a longer pre- assessment that will help guide placing kids into groups for the whole unit, then I look for one concept and try to find common errors.  Then I keep the tests and resort them when we are ready to cover the next concept in the unit. 

     For example, let's say I was teaching adding with regrouping and it was a short assessment with four addition problems.  I could have a stack of kids who got it, a stack of kids who just need more practice and are inconsistent (perhaps making goofy errors saying 3 + 6 = 8), a stack of kids who add, but forget to add in the "carried" one and a stack of "no clues."  Then I have four groups and I know how to target their needs.

     If had given a longer assessment on ALL of the concepts that are covered in fractions I would just focus in on  one objective. For example, on the fraction test lets say I wanted to cover parts of a whole.  Then I would just look at these problems, sort these papers into three to four like steps and create math groups.  Then when we were ready to go over the next objective I would look at a new problem and resort again.

     I try to keep the assessments right by my table so in the middle of the group, if I want to jog my memory on the mistake Susie made I can check and try to remediate it right then and there.

    Since I am low maintenance and my groups are always changing, I keep my system for organizing pretty simple.  I use different colored index cards. On one card I write group one and the group members.  On a different color index card I write group two and the group members.  When I ran out of colored index cards, I wrote the groups in a different colored marker! 

Updated 6-09 I used to write the kids names on index cards, but I have gotten even lazier!  I just write the kids names on the white board with different colored dry erase markers under their group headings.  Simple and easy!



     The index cards were on the left (like the cute pictures with clip art- but easier to change).  Then there is another column next to the names.  The first activity is what they do for the first rotation (next to the one).  You will notice that after any paper/ workbook pages there is a math tub.  This is what kids do if they finish the paper pencil work before the rotations are over. I go over more about this below.  Then under the first activity, there is a second activity (next to the 2).  This is what they do during the second rotation.

Group One with kids names


 1. Meet


Workbook page 28 and

Math Tubs

Group Two with kids names


1. Games


Workbook page 28

Math Tubs

Group Three with kids names


1. Workbook page 23

Math Tubs

2. Games

Group Four  with kids names


1. Workbook page 28

Math Tubs

2. Meet



So, What is Everyone Else Doing?

     This is always the golden question whenever small group instruction is taking place.  It is tough to balance.  Especially because you want whatever they are doing independently outside of guided groups to be just as valuable and meaningful as what is happening in the guided group.

    To keep myself organized, I used the above planning sheet. Next year I will be at a new school.  Apparently all of the planning is online, so I have no idea how I will plan.  I am somewhat worried about this, but I figure I will cross that bridge when I come to it!

     There was a rotation of sorts.  Notice that every child did seat work everyday. Is this best practices? I am not quite sure!  BUT it did give time for students to practice (old school paper and pencil) a skill that would be assessed later paper and pencil on the "BIG TEST."  I always assigned something that would be easier for students.  I did not want it to be a new skill- I wanted it to be something they could do independently and successfully BUT would also benefit from practice.  It was harder to do this at the beginning of the year, since we hadn't covered as much, but got much easier as the year went on. 

     Under the seatwork section are the words math tubs.  I found often that kids were finishing the seatwork too quickly and were sitting around with nothing to do.  If I let them play games when they were done they breezed through the seatwork, just to get to the game AND it got noisy- quick!  I tried several different things.  For a while kids selected a sheet of laminated paper copied with a problem from the Read It! Draw it ! Solve It! book.






     Students were able to select a problem and marked off any of the problems from a checklist in their math journals.     While this worked well, it was difficult for some of my struggling math students. It also was difficult to monitor AND made it more for me to check. I might go back to this system, but it would be the END of the year when my kids have had more math exposure.

     When I felt like this wasn't working I switched to math tubs.  A lot of the second grade teachers were trying this out as well and the math coaches really promoted it to help with automaticity of addition facts.  The tubs are based on the Math Their Way ideas.  I have not been trained in this approach so it is somewhat the blind leading the blind!  Basically students were assessed using the hidden number assessment (on page 13 of this file)  on ways to make ten.  When students could not recall the number automatically, this was their magic number.  They used math manipulatives to construct this number.  Each tub had a different math manipulative and recording sheet so kids could make their number.  They also practiced making the number that was one less and one more as a preview and review.  To learn more about this, please check out the Math Their Way Summary Newsletter.  Another  activity I will include in tubbing this year is the math number family tub  ideas from the School Bell.  I especially liked the  tile card ideas and ghost card ideas as well!

     Two groups played games daily.  Please note that only one group at a time does this to cut down on noise.  Kids can choose any of the games available on the math shelf.  All of these have been introduced and played on a Monday so kids are familiar with the rules.  The games are on the right side of the shelf (the left is literacy stuff).  I also kept white tubs under the shelf that were specifically math tubs with activities in them. 



Math Games and Activities

Reinforcing Number Sense (including skip counting)

Place Value






Reinforcing Number Sense

 Ten Frames and Dot Cards

Our math coaches are really stressing the development of number sense using ten frames and dot patterns to help develop students concept of numbers.  I found these to great packets with ideas on how to implement this in the classroom, printables and games!



 Skip Counting

I was just talking to my former teaching partner (and math whiz) about the importance of teaching skip counting and WHY it needs to be taught.  I just didn't get it.  And she enlightened me on how it reinforces counting change and money AND is a foundation for multiplication.  A big "Ohhhh" moment for me.  So, I have been trying a few things to get kids ready for money and multiplication.

I found this skip counting cadence on  We have been chanting this at the beginning of math times.  I have introduced each "stanza" one at a time so we can focus on the numbers.

Skip Counting Cadence

I have read aloud the story What Comes in 2'3, 3's & 4's? as an introduction. This is an adorable book! It fins things students see everyday and shows how they come in sets of 2,3 or 4. When I focused on skip counting by two's I only read this portion of the text.  When I focus on 3's, I only read this part and so on.


Then we created what ever number we were studying pattern on the hundreds board.  Then students were given a large copy of a hundreds chart and "jewels."  These are really just the pretty, large stones that can be found at the dollar store foe the bottom of vases and aquariums.  Students then created the pattern with the number on the hundreds board with the "jewels" as I walked around and watched.

Finally, when students have done this, we go back to our seats and complete our skip counting book.  Students each have a book with a skip counting page from 2 to 10.  I copied this two to a page to save paper and then sliced the copies so that each book is the size of a half sheet of paper.  We completed 2, 3, and 4 together as a class so that students could get used to completing this.  Students must complete the hundreds board pattern in PENCIL first and then show it to me before they color it in with markers, because that can sometimes mess this up.

Skip Counting by 2's

Skip Counting by 3's

Skip Counting by 4's

Skip Counting by 5's

Skip Counting by 6's

Skip Counting by 7's

Skip Counting by 8's

Skip Counting by 9's

Skip Counting by 10's

This was a great activity, but I found it REALLY time consuming. I am not sure if the benefits out weighted time spent.  I actually stopped somewhere around 6 because of time.  What I might do next year is choose 2,3,4,5,10, because these seem to be a good introduction and kids understand these patterns.  What I found that was actually better than this, was a Skip Counting tape a colleague lent to me.  I think the singing clicked better with my kids.



 Hundreds Board Activities

     Last year I did not know how to use the hundreds board.  It wasn't until a colleague loaned me this book that I began to see the possibilities.  I ended up using many of the activities from this book as my mini lesson  during the second half of the year on days when I wasn't sure where to go next.  This upcoming year  I will use these activities in the BEGINNING of the school year to develop number sense.  Unfortunately this book is no longer in print.  I did find the books below on Amazon, but I have not seen them personally.




  However, Mathwire has tons of great ideas to use with the hundreds board.  They are free and ready to print!

This link discusses using hundreds board puzzles.  I had these out almost all the time and my kids loved them.  I had several different sets.

This link discusses the hundreds board magic.  I have not done this yet, but  I went to a workshop and saw this.  I thought this would be a very engaging beginning of the year mini lessons! The kids would do this over and over!

This link is to a PDF file from Mathwire that gives clues using the hundred board so that  students guess the number.  Great logic puzzles!

I found this great posting on  It has an attachment of designs that can be made using the hundred board. To use this you will need a hundred pocket chart with two color sided numbers. Although the design says 13, I would not give the number 13.  Instead, I would give a clue.  For example 7 less than 20.  Then the student that got it could turn the number card over.  Continue giving clues until a design emerges.  The kids LOVE guessing what the design could be!


Place Value

This game can reinforce place value and addition with regrouping.

This is based off of an ETS game called Race for a Flat:

Students need:

  • base ten blocks

  • place value mat

  • three die

This game is played in pairs.

Students roll the die and add the three numbers together.  I did this to reinforce adding with more than two addends.  You could do the same with four die if you wanted or just two die.  The students with the highest roll goes first.  The students roll the die and add them together to find the sum.  Then they "show" this amount on their place value mat.  Then the other student does the same.  Students continue to take turns and add their rolls to their mats.  Students must look at their mats to decide when it is time to trade in (regroup).  Students continue playing until one students reaches a flat (hundred board) and is the winner.

I like this game because it reinforces the idea of regrouping and trading in.


Place Value Matching Cards

This year for a mini lesson I will have students match two cards, the number to the word form.  As we learn more, I will add more to the matching activity included the base ten blocks and then the expanded form.  I will do this as a pocket chart activity and then will leave it out as a center activity during guided math.

Place Value Concentration

page 1

page 2

I looked all over and couldn't find a place value concentration printable. I am sure there are some, I just couldn't find them!  So I decided to create them myself!  I this game, students match the number to the base ten block representation. 

Place Value Review Power Point

Every Friday my Target students are pulled out for the entire day for gifted classes.  I hate to introduce anything new and I hate to waste anytime with the remaining 13 students!  One activity I did was this power point Jeopardy game.  The kids LOVED it!  I found the template online and adapted it.  Kids solved the problems on white boards.  If the majority of the class got it, they got the points.  If the majority didn't the teacher got the points.  It was a great way for me to check what the kids knew!




I have just started addition with regrouping with my second graders.  Much to my surprise, all of my students were able to add without regrouping and just needed some instruction on how to use models to show what addition without regrouping  means.  Then we rolled into regrouping! 

This is a game that I made up, but I am sure someone else has it published somewhere.  I call it High/ Low:

Students need:

This game is played with 3-5 students.

I played this game in small math groups to introduce adding with regrouping.


Students each draw one of the number ads.  The students then each build the number and I check it.  We talk about adding another card to find the sum and whether or not they need to clear their mats (for some reason they all want to clear the mat and start all over!).  student then draw a second card and build this number to find the sum between the two numbers.  After I have checked (this just takes a second and I can watch as students build) students go around and announce their sum.  Students talk and compare their sums.  Students with the highest and lowest each get one point.

 So not only are we adding and regrouping but also comparing!!  It is neat to see the kids beginning to notice if they will be low or high just based on the cards they draw.


This is not necessarily addition with regrouping, but it does encourage a great deal of mental math.

 Subtraction War

Two Player game

Students need one deck of cards


Directions: Students need to take out all face cards including the Aces. Shuffle remaining cards.  Deal the out all cards to the two players.  Players should NOT look at their cards. Players should hold their stack faces down.  Players call out "One, two, three, war." When the players say war they lay down the top card in their stack. Whoever can accurately subtract the two cards wins both of the cards. If their is a tie, each player gets one card.  Whoever has the most cards at the end wins.  This game can be played with addition, subtraction or multiplication.


Mind Reader Game (great game for missing addends)

Three Player game

Students need one deck of cards


Directions: Students need to take out all face cards including the Aces. Shuffle remaining cards.  Deal the out all cards to the two players. The third player is called the coach.  The coach does NOT get any cards.   Players should NOT look at their cards. Players should hold their stack faces down. Without looking at their cards, the players count to three and put the card on their forehead (they should never see their own card).  The coach announces the sum of the two cards.  The player then has to figure out what card is on their forehead given the other players card and the sum. Whoever correctly calls their card first wins.  The coach has to make sure the answer is correct! Whoever calls it correctly first gets both cards.  The player with the most cards at the end of the game, wins.

Addition and Subtraction Practice- this is a great game by Marilyn Burns Math Solutions

Here is another great one using a deck of cards called The Game of More for Math Solutions as well.

Great math game for fact fluency called Addition Top it from Every Day Mathematics.

Other great math games to play with a deck of cards

More great math games using a deck of cards



I am just entering the world of teaching math and lower grades (since I taught fourth grade language arts for so long!). Here is my best effort!


 Apple Glyph

Apple Glyph

I wanted a back to school glyph or a glyph I could use with some of the activities I do for Johnny Appleseed.  I searched online and found this apple glyph by Judith Rohlf at Tiddlywinks, an ESOL site.  I took her ideas and just put them into this form, so I did NOT create the glyph, just the format.

Here are the tracers for the apple glyph.  Copy these on card stock and cut out.  Students can then use these as tracers to create their own glyph!  I usually have about 4 sets of tracers so a group can share them.

Turkey Glyph

I found this excellent turkey glyph with a detailed lesson plan at The Educator' Reference Desk by Tina Vecellio.  Since I don't really celebrate Halloween at school , I wanted a fall glyph (I will use the scarecrow for my "Halloween" activity) and a Thanksgiving glyph.   Click here for my format of the turkey glyph. I once again took someone else's ideas and just formatted them in a way I liked.  I don't want to take credit for someone else's hard work.

Here are the tracers for the turkey glyph.  Here is page one and page two.  Copy these on card stock and cut out.  Students can then use these as tracers to create their own glyph!  I usually have about 4 sets of tracers so a group can share them.


Scarecrow Glyph

I found this scarecrow glyph  and decided to "pretty it up " for my second graders.  Click here to see my printable version.  They will create the glyph as part of one of their math stations.  After everyone has created their glyph and we have hung them in the hall, I will send students out to read the glyphs using this sheet.  As soon as I create my sample (this week),  I will post it!

Snowman Glyph

I found these two snowman glyphs on on  Neither were exactly  what I was looking for, but both were very close.  One glyph was created by Mrs. Ritenour and the other was created by Ms. Weber.  I combined the ideas from both to create this glyph.  Please take note that I did NOT create the glyph, but compiled it based on the ideas of others.  Here is a copy of the snowman glyph in Word and in PDF.

After everyone has created their glyph and we have hung them , I will send students to read the glyphs using this sheet.  Here is a great example a student created:

After we created the snowman glyphs I did a word problem involving snowmen as well.    I decided to get more "bang for my buck."  We completed a word problem with the tracers the next day.

Students each got a copy of white paper.  They traced the body of the three snowball snowman tracer from the glyph and cut it out along with the top hat which they cut out on black paper.  Then students were given the word problem which we read aloud and figured out what the problem was asking.  Students then solved the problem with pictures on the middle snowball, words (answer in a complete sentence ) on the bottom snowball and numbers on the hat.  We used special Gel Effect  markers by Crayola on the top hats to write the number sentence on the black paper of the top hat.

Here is a copy of the word problem. They turned out really cute!




 Birthday Graph

  The beginning of the school year provides a perfect time for some graphing activities.  To introduce graphing and math vocabulary I try to do a birthday graph.

  We discussed months and days.  Then students wrote the day they were born on the cupcake and decorated it.  When thy e were done they came up and glued the cupcake in the appropriate spot.  I introduced the term key, greater than, less than, equal and so on.  I asked a bunch of different questions about the graph.  Simple, and to the point!

Cupcake printable




We have started a unit on Fractions this last few week's  I felt my students needed a break from addition with regrouping before we jumped into subtraction or  skip counting money.  Here are some excellent resources I have found (but did NOT create).

  Fraction Man

I found this resource on the Second Grade Teachers MSN Club.  This is a wonderful web group to join if you teach second.  There is SO MUCH shared on this site.

This adorable little guy is fraction man.  We created this on one of the early release days and the kids really enjoyed it.  It took longer than I expected (about an hour and a half) but my kids were all engaged.  It le to some GREAT discussion on comparing fractions (would you rather eat 1/16 of pizza or 1/2 of a pizza?  Of course all the kids said 1/16 so I made them look at the red construction paper and compare it to the yellow).

Here is the link to this great activity:



Fraction Bingo

Another great resource shared on the Second Grade MSN Club was fraction bingo  Another teacher, Donna Perry, painstakingly created these wonderful bingo boards. I copied them into Word because I feel it is easier to work with than Excel in which the sheet was originally created.  Then I cut and pasted to slightly rearrange the boards.  Once again, I did not create these boards, I was just lucky enough to find them!

Fraction Bingo card 1

Fraction Bingo card 2

Fraction Bingo card 3

Fraction bingo card answer sheet


Fraction Shake

This is a game we are playing in small math groups to reinforce fractions of a set.  Students are given a small plastic container that the cafeteria shared.  It is a small ,sweet cherries containers, but a to-go container would work just as well (like the picture below).  Students also need double sided counters, dry erase board and marker.

I drop in  handful of double sided counters.  Students shake the container and then write the fraction of the red counters that is facing up on the dry erase board.  They love this noisy game!  I just watch them do this over and over and monitor that they are able to find a fraction of a set.  Then I ask them to close their eyes, I pop open the container and change the amount of counters.  Then I watch the kids to see if they know to change the denominator when they create the new fractions.

Fraction Kites

This idea is from Christiana Bainbridge. It is a great art activity to illustrate fractions of a whole. Click here to see the project.




I have already finished this unit on geometry.  Our math coach ( and my former teammate I taught with) created this GREAT lesson to introduce plane shapes and then an art project to practice identifying plane polygons.  Thank you, Julie!

Introduction of Plane Shapes

To introduce plane shapes I used Julie's lesson plan.  I passed out each student a geoboard with a handful of rubber bans (of course we discussed procedures and how to handle the geoboards BEFORE I passed them out !! : )  I gave students time to play with them first.

As the kids were playing I put up several pieces of chart paper on the white board. After a minute or two I called the kids attention back.  I read aloud the story The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns.


As I read aloud the story I stopped for every plane shape the triangle wished to be starting with the triangle.  I read the first few pages and then stopped and asked the kids to make any kind of triangle on their geoboards.  As the kids were making their triangles, I wrote (in a red marker): Triangle at the top  of one sheet of chart paper and then listed underneath: ____ edges, ___ vertices, _____ angles.  Then I told kids the definition of each and we figured out how many edges, vertices and angles their triangle had.  Then I called up 3 students (the same number of edges, vertices and angles) to draw their example of a triangle.  I tried to choose a right, equilateral and isosceles triangle example (although the kids had no idea of these terms). Here are some examples to the posters that we created:


Then kids put the geoboards down and I read the next part of the story about the triangle wanting to become a quadrilateral. Then I picked another color (I used blue) and labeled another sheet of chart paper Quadrilateral and wrote ____ edges, ___ vertices, ___angles. I once again orally defined it and we realized that a quadrilateral has four of each.  Then I asked students to make a quadrilateral on their geoboards. Then I choose four students with four different looking quadrilaterals to draw it on the bottom of the chart paper, also in the blue marker.

I continue to do this with the pentagon, hexagon, and octagon, choosing a different color for each shape. If the students draw the shape (especially with the hexagon and octagon) where it is difficult to count the edges and vertices, trace over it with the marker to exaggerate it visually for the students.

Geometry Art Collage

This is a great project that took SEVERAL days for students to complete while I pulled kids in small groups.

The next day, I introduced the polygon art collage. We talked about the different polygons we had learned, then I showed them an example of the collage.  I do not have a picture of my example, I am sorry!  I sent all my student examples home!!

Each student was given one copy of the sheets below.  These sheets are blackline masters from Van De Walle's book Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally.  Click here to read about this book and see other backline masters.

polygon sheet 1

polygon sheet 2

polygon sheet 3

We then identified some of the polygons.  We colored the triangles red, the quadrilaterals blue so that the polygons were color coded to our charts we had made the day before.

Each student was given a large sheet of white construction paper. in the top corner they drew a key with a red box= triangle and a blue box= quadrilateral and so on.  After students colored in the shapes they carefully cut the shapes out.  They then glued them down to the paper in a random design of their choice, careful not to cover their key.

Graphing Art College

Then I modeled how to create a graph of the number of triangles , quadrilateral and so on.  Students created a graph using this sheet.  Students wrote the polygon on the left side, then drew a picture of the polygon.  Students created a title to match.  Collages and matching graphs were SUPPOSED to go in the hall, but I never got around to putting them up!   My coworker did and they looked great!





The Georgia DOE has several great geometry projects listed on their website.  I used several of the projects/ activities in my geometry unit.  Click here to see all of the activities!  It has vocabulary and essential questions!



After teaching geometry I realized the most difficult part for my students was absorbing all the vocabulary.  There was tons and tons of vocabulary for the kids to take in- my highest readers struggled and some of my ESOL kids got lost.  It took a HUGE amount of review, daily review, to even make a dent.  I fell in love with this activity because it is hands on way to teach the vocabulary- and it is fun!  Who doesn't love tangrams?!

Learning Vocabulary with Tangrams from the Math Solutions website.


Guided Math Presentation

This year the district I work in is exploring guided math.  One of the coaches (Hi Rachel!) I have had the pleasure to work with and  has worked at my school noticed I have been trying to do guided math and ask me to share how I organize math at a presentation she was doing. So this is the power point presentation of how I do guided math.  It basically is a watered down version of this webpage.  I blanked out the faces of my students for privacy- I am sorry it looks creepy!

Building in Math Review

One are that I have found difficult is to make sure I am building in enough review.  Most kids need LOTS of repetition to master math skills and sometimes it can be hard to find the time. Here is how I find the time:

Worksheet math book during guided math- since I do not want kids to practice the new skill incorrectly, often the assignments given during guided math are a review.  Not always, but most of the time.

RAP/ Morning Work- The district I currently work in requires a daily RAP (Review and Practice) in math.  The way I fit this in my very busy schedule is morning work!  Every morning the kids come in, sharpen two pencils, write down their homework, and start their morning work.  Morning work is five review problems in math.  Originally I was letting kids work on it and then we checked it together after the announcements whole group.  It realized this wasn't working because the kids were basically blowing it off because they weren't really being help accountable. 

After Christmas I decide to try this new system and so far it is working like a charm. Students complete their morning work.  Then they must bring it to me to check it. I check it and circle any incorrect problems and ask them to redo them. If the kid doesn't know how to do it, then I remediate right then and there one on one. Once the child has all the problems correct (with or without my help) they get to choose a sticker.  They want to get the sticker so bad, they all try to get the work done and checked.   If I have found that many students did not get the same problem then I go over the problem after the morning announcements whole group.


Here are pictures of the kinds of problems I used.  These are problems from October. These problems are based off the problems from the end of the nine weeks benchmark test. I change names and numbers and the object in the problem each time. To the students, it looks like a new problem every day.  However, they are learning the structure of the story problem and it helps them learn what to do (half of the battle).  I often "recycle" styles of problems, especially word problems to help them master them. This means they will have the same style of word problem 4-5 days (sometimes more depending on the difficulty of the problem) in a row.  When all (or the majority of the kids) get it *regularly*- not just the first time they all get it, I introduce a new style of word problem.  Then every so often I will throw in an "older" style of word problem to see if they still get it.  It sounds more difficult than it is.  I just try to spend 10 minutes bore I leave each day writing up the morning work and problems.  I hold a copy of the benchmark test to remind me of the problem styles and replace names with my student's names.

Great Resources

This is a section I am just starting, but here are a few great websites:

FREE Marylyn Burns math activities

Just TONS of GOOD stuff!

Review pages (WOW- look great) and exemplar/ open answer problems for grades 1-5

List of math literature matched to standards

FREE math power points

This is another awesome site with five pages of trade books matched to a math concept!

More math picture books!

The Georgia DOE has created to unit of activities and projects to match all of the objectives for each grade level.  Many of the activities are really good!

Several ideas for guided math activities.  Make sure to scroll to the left hand side of the page to see all of the links to other guided math activities!

TONS of ideas for math games plus printable game directions!

Tons of games for math games using just a deck of cards!

Guided Math in Other Teacher's Classrooms

Here is a look at guided math in another teacher's classroom.  Ms. Mayer teaches third grade at my school  Her method is a bit more structured than mine.  So if you feel I am too "willy-nilly" than this might appeal to you (I know I am a little too free spirited sometimes!)!

On her board is a list of what and where students should be.  It is similar to the way I do this.

She has four basic rotations.  Main skill, which is the skill currently being taught, computer and basic facts, problem solving and review which allows students to review past concepts.  Students complete one rotation a day.  So on Monday a child may only do the problem solving center.

Each week her children get a copy of the a math center sheet like the one pictured below.

This explains to  students what EXACTLY to do in each center.

Students pick up any worksheets they will need for the centers in the beginning of the week.  At the top coner of the worksheet a color coded stamp is marked to match each center (they are all color coded according the the centers sheet).

Students store these in a math two pocket folders until the end of the week.  The left pocket is labeled as completed work and the right is labeled as still working work.

Any other materials that are needed for centers are stored in the centers baskets.