Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guided Math ~ Chapter 5: Small-Group Instruction

It's hard to believe we are already up to Chapter 5 in our Guided Math Book Study!

Let me say this was a loooong chapter...and I'm very short on time today, so I'm going to have to condense down much of what I planned to say.  :(

I think we are all aware of most of the challenges and the advantages of teaching to a smaller group of students on some sort of a regular basis.

For me personally, I would LOVE to teach to 6 - 8 students at the time...all the time!  However, we know that other types of instruction are necessary and beneficial.

Also, what the heck am I going to do with the rest of the class {sometimes another 20 or so} while I'm happily teaching to those 6 or 8?  I think that is my biggest concern with small-group instruction in a nutshell!

Now I have my students work in pairs and groups all the time while I meander around the room, listening and helping out when needed.  That, my friends, is a whole other ball game!

We need to be able to have a system in place, from the very first day or school, where our students know exactly what is expected of them and exactly what the consequences will be for not meeting these expectations.  Since I've never had this type of small-group instruction as a regular part of my classroom, I'm never spent much time of the specifics with my students.

That will change in August.

We need to be able to have students working on one or more other tasks while we focus completely on those 6 - 8 students who need out help the most at that particular moment.  This brings up another concern...actually two concerns.

Time and space.

It's hard to always find enough time to pull everything together for one lesson, much less several lessons going on at the same time.

In my mind, I just picture this taking up a little more space in the classroom as well.  Maybe it won't, hopefully.  If so, I may have to be creative and a little less OCD and allow students to sit on bean bags on floor.

Sammons provides tons of great information about how and when to successfully use small-group instruction.  As I said, this was a very long, information-packed chapter.  I know I will need to refer back to this one - probably more so than any other chapter so far.  This is not in my comfort zone and not something that will not need minor tweaking to make it happen in my classroom.

This girl's going to need a major overhaul for this to work!

However, I WILL make it work!  I've always dreamed of a classroom where this environment works and I think this book is just the kick in the pants I needed to make it happen!

Look out students!  Come August 9th, there's a new and improved teacher in town!!!

Be sure to check out the hosts' blogs this week to link up and see other teachers' ideas.

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},


  1. When I did some small group work last year, I had the other kids rotating through different math game stations. The games were ones from our curriculum, and we had already learned to play together. But there were issues with them staying on task and noise level and bugging me when I was working with the small group. So I'm planning on pairing these Guided Math strategies with some Daily 5 management ideas. *Crossing my fingers*

    1. Best of luck to you! Those are some of the same issues I foresee. 7th Graders are so social. I'm going to have to work hard from the very first day to make them see the importance of staying on task when I'm not right there with them.

      Thanks for much for stopping by!


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    1. Thanks, Lara! How sweet!

      I'll head over and check it out now. :)


  3. Hi Michelle!

    Thanks for your insight. I, too, am a 7th grade math teacher. I'm grappling with the whole small group idea now. How often do you hope to employ small groups in your room? How will you use small groups - to actually teach new content? to provide additional help to student who don't show mastery of previously taught skills? both? Then there are the logistical things I think of such as grades. Will all students complete the same graded assignments?

    I already incorporate a lot of partner and small group work (among students), but have never done math stations. Thanks for any input (and sorry to inundate you with questions!)


    Setting Sail in 7th Grade

  4. Hi Michelle, I really need some help! I am rather new to teaching math. This is my 2nd year. I have been told I need to teach all math levels for grades 5, 6, 7, 8, including a mixed class for 6 th graders that have on level students and a small group of pre--algebra students, as well as a 7th grade class that has a split between three groups: 5 students who are below level and classified as special Ed with support, 5 students who are on level 7 th graders, and 9 students who are pre-algebra level. My principal is suggesting that I use guided math groups for these 2 classes. I have never done it and am very nervous about teaching two different math courses within a 53 minute period to different groups of kids. I think it is crazy! I really need help, could you e -mail me some ideas.

    Thanks, Maureen Sikora, St. Paul School in Burlington, NJ