A Beginner's Guide to Math in Small Groups - Markers & Minions
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A Beginner’s Guide to Math in Small Groups

Author: Simone Vega, M.Ed

Where Do I Start?

Welcome back to a series of blog-post related to math in small groups. Starting something new can sometimes be very overwhelming. I am a firm believer that the easiest way to begin ANYTHING, is to take the leap of courage and start. Teaching math in a small group is one of those things that might need a little courage to begin. I hope that this beginners guide helps ease your mind and helps you take that leap of courage to start. 

I will start by prefacing, this layout and system work for my classroom and works well with my management style. If you want to tweak something and make it work for you and your style of teaching, more power to you! If you see one thing that can work in your class, woohoo! Before I started teaching, my mom-33 year veteran teacher, always said, “Learning from others is so powerful because you get to use their ideas and make it work for you.” 

Before you start small groups, determine your own personal goal and vision for small groups. My goal for math in small groups was/is to provide more time for multiplication fluency so all third-graders master their multiplication facts. My vision is to provide a system that has meaningful support built into the layout of my math block time. What are your goals and visions for math in small groups? 

Math Block Layout

Once you’ve determined your WHY, we can dive into the logistics of how small group math works. I have roughly an hour and ten minutes teach math so I have strategically structured my math block to maximize my time. My math block/ lesson design looks like this: 

Math Small Groups Schedule

Our district has adopted Engage New York/ Eureka Math so my independent practice is selected “Problem Set” questions that pertain to the lesson. 

Keep in mind, when students are not with me, they are in “Tech Time” (technology independent group) or “Math Menu” (fluency independent group). You can read about these topics more in our blog-post series.

The Rollout

Once you have figured out the design of small groups, it is time to start teaching your students your expectations for small groups. High expectations and routines will make successful math groups. Without high expectations and routines, small groups will not reach their full success level. 

I like to give myself a week of rollout time to teach expectations. Every year I always remind myself that the first few days might be a little rough, but they’ve never done this before!  

Throughout the rollout week, keep the course. Keep your expectations high and remember your WHY. 

What are your greatest hesitations or issues when it comes to running math in small groups? We have a survey that will help us develop resources and PD to help support teachers. Please take a couple minutes to share your thoughts!

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