01 09 10

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How We Do....Guided Math Groups

Howdy Friends! Holy Smokes I'm blogging! I'm full speed ahead but I want to stop in and share a few posts with you that I'm calling the "How We Do" series. Each post will be a descriptive sharing of "how we do" a certain aspect of our day, and this week, it's HOW WE DO...Guided Math Groups.

I've tried them all... Daily Five, Rotating Calendars, Meeting with One Group at a time and changing three times during the period...And to tell you the truth, I hated them all. So much to manage, Little Johnny in the corner drawing pictures and then Susie and Sarah playing hair salon instead of Multiplication War. I was just tired of the hassle, and seeing my kids off task. I wanted to make the most of what time we had every day, so this year, I changed it up...A LOT!

To give you a little background, I have a fifty minute segment for guided math/intervention beginning at 8:00 in the morning. It's hard to get revved up that early, but I manage. To begin with, my intervention time actually starts with my kids doing their morning work. Every day, we do a Spiral Math Review that I project, rather than copy. If you're interested, you can find it here

The kids see something every day like what you see below. They do all of the work in a notebook and then read for the remaining early morning time.

The problems get harder, and the concepts spiral throughout the year... Put it to you this way, every single kid will remember expanded and base ten form, as well as rounding by the end of the year.

As soon as 8:00 hits, we pull out a crayon and go over the Daily Math Review, checking our answers and discussing the word problem..in detail. This takes a total of about ten minutes. Once that's finished, we take ten minutes of practice time with partners, and then take our daily math facts timed tests. I get all of my tests from Multiplication.com and have them all ready to hand out and test.

Once this is all done, we jump into our Math Groups which are based off of the poster that you see below.

Groups are color coded based on their skill levels, and they will change later on. But for now, these groups are where we will stay. Each day of the week, a specific group has a station for the day. They stay at that station for the entire period and complete whatever it is they have been assigned. The stations are as follows:

Odyssey Math- This is a computer program we use based on each students' individual test scores.
Dice Games- We do Multiplication War, Race to 5,000, and lots of others.
Rainbow Write- Simple and easy, they use markers and write their facts in rainbow colors.
Task Cards- I have tons of them and pull out a review set every week for practice.
iPod Math- We pull in a set of eight iPods and the kids practice their facts on them.

Wait, what's that you say?? There's no GUIDED Math.. Actually there is... Based on performance in the classroom, I will pull individual students out of their rotations for the day and work with those kids on the specific skills they are missing or need a little more practice with. 

And that's it folks...No crazy calendar thing to deal with, no rotating groups through the room. We stay in one spot, deal with what we've got, and move right on through. 

In case your interested in the poster, I'm attaching it below. Just a note, it's formatted to print 16x20. All I did was type in my stuff, save it as a pdf, save that  to a flash drive, take it to Office Depot, and they printed it for me on their jumbo printer.. (I WANT ONE!!) It cost me about eight bucks to print it. It is editable in PowerPoint and the fonts are embedded so they should still work for you! I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for stopping in and I'll be back again soon with another "How We Do"
Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Hello again! This will make my third week back in school and my kiddoes have jumped into everything feet first. Classroom procedures are down and we are buzzing right through the curriculum that I've planned out. We've even got a field trip coming up this week! I love early-in-the-year field trips.. They happen before the spring crazies set in.

One area I have struggled in for the past eight years of teaching is HOMEWORK! How much is too much? How much is too little? Should they have it every night? Should it be spelling and math, reading and math, or all three? Ugh...just too much stuff to handle and I hate overburdening my kids when we work so hard at school all day. However, I do see the value in a little uninterrupted time in the evenings for a bit of homework. It bridges the home-school gap, and it gives those kids who REALLY need it a bit more practice. This year, I revamped my homework system and I'd like to show you a bit about it.

First of all, I dropped Spelling homework entirely. We do our word study activities during Guided Reading, so why repeat the same ones at home? I chose to focus my kids on Reading Comprehension and Math facts each night for their homework assignments. 

For reading homework each night, I use these bad boys! LOVE!

This year I had a DonorsChoose project funded for Time for Kids Magazine. Now I teach third, but ordered the second grade magazines for my kiddoes. I didn't want anyone to really have to struggle to read the text. I wanted them to be able to attack it and understand it. These magazines are the heart of our reading homework.

On Mondays, my kids get their homework packet, with the newsletter attached. This newsletter combines a classroom update, homework assignments, weekly multi-syllable word list (they must be able to read them fluently by the end of the week) and important notes for parents.

Each night, my students complete their homework by reading their Time magazine and completing only five comprehension questions that I write each night. Yes, I do have to take the time to write fifteen questions per week, but it only takes me about fifteen minutes to churn them out and type them in. Here's a snapshot of what I'm talking about.

The last night of Reading homework consists of having the students read aloud their magazine and answer the questions on the back of the magazine. Easy Peasy!

Math is another story. Fact fluency is a big deal at my school in general, so my students also take their math fact cards home each night to practice those. The activities vary, sometimes rainbow write, quiz with a parent, two times each, etc. My kids are responsible for bringing their cards to and from home every day and also for turning in all evidence of completing their math fact practice, so I also attach the page you see below.

I not only teach math and reading, I also teach responsibility. I want my third graders to be responsible for their own things so I send homework home on Monday, and don't see it again until Friday. If it's missing, they complete it during recess and that's just the way things roll. I also do a Friday Lunch Bunch with the kids who complete everything to encourage those few slackers who like to skip out on homework. We eat lunch in the classroom and...dare i say it...WATCH CARTOONS! They love it, and so far..it's motivating them to practice at home each night.

If you have access to Time for Kids, I would definitely recommend them for homework assignments. If not, you could do the same thing with those little leveled readers that come with your basal sets. So far, I feel a lot less stressed about homework, and the kids are actually enjoying it!

As always, I love your comments and I'd also love to hear how you manage your homework in your own classroom! 
Have a great week!