I got that naptime hustle going again today, but this is the morning naptime hustle. Slightly more predictable than the afternoon naptime hustle. (I’m sure now they’ll wake up in 5 minutes for saying that.) I’m going to wrap up my SGI series today with a post about planning for math small groups. Disclaimer: I’ve been planning this series for several days, and I’m going to do my best to keep it really focused on just planning for small group instruction, but I LOVE teaching math and there are so many things that I want to share that it’s going to be a little tricky. There are probably more posts about teaching math in my future. I just think it’s so fun!
Just to clarify a few things before I post the logistics of planning for math SGI, here are some details about my math block. We have a 60 minute math block, and we do not use a specific curriculum. I use a mix of direct instruction with critical thinking tasks and work stations. That means I’m jamming a ton of instruction into 60 minutes every day, and I plan to post more about balancing those different types of instruction in a week/month/unit, etc. But, for me, I feel like the purpose of small group instruction in math is to level out the playing field and make sure that all students are picking up what I’m proverbially laying down. It’s also a time that I use to push my high group. My personal belief is that all students should participate in small group instruction, even students who are ahead/above grade level. Small group instruction is not RTI. I’m not saying that all students need to participate equally; I think it’s appropriate for lower students to receive SGI more often, but I feel very strongly that all students should participate.
So, let’s get down to the details. Much like when I plan for guided reading, I start by putting my students into groups. Generally, I keep my students in the same rotation groups for both reading and math. When I group my students for math, I break them out based on the skills they need to build. For my highest student, I look for a way to push them based on our current content. So it’s entirely possible that I have a group of students who are working on content in a small group that is NOT part of our current unit.
Once I have my groups, I think about what’s most important for them to build/pick up to stay with us, content wise. So, for example, in a unit on place value, I might be working with my lowest students on skip counting by 10s, crossing the decade, or bundling 10 ones to make 1 ten. I group my students based mostly on their performance on exit tickets and pre-unit assessments, although I do sometimes use work products from their work stations to regroup them, if they need it. After I have my groups and an idea of what each group needs to work on, I set out to plan. Now, I want to be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with direct instruction, but I do feel like it helps build a foundation of understanding and for that reason I do use it in my small groups for math when I first teach them a skill. Once we’ve worked on the small skill in 2 group meetings I’ll put more of the onus of them, but the first time I introduce it our SGI session for that day basically follows the model of introduction, teacher model, group practice, students individually practice. At the end I gather their IP and review to see if we need to come back to this teaching point (TP) or if we can move on. When I plan I also make myself practice sheets to use in my small groups. (I always plan to print these Monday mornings. I would say that I actually print them on Monday mornings about 87% of the time.) Here’s a sample of small group plans: Math Small Group Plans_EDITED FOR BLOG Just a reminder–edited for blog just means that I deleted kids’ last names if they were in my original plans and saved the file as a PDF. I’m not trying to put on a show for you. =) This is really what I would for my small groups. And here’s a sample of the practice sheets that I would make for my small groups: Math Small Group Materials_BLOG VERSION.
I mentioned this in my guided reading post, but I generally try to plan for SGI a week ahead of time. The hubs doesn’t like it, but I also often use breaks to get ahead. SGI is so important, but planning can really take over your life if you let it. Don’t let SGI run your life! =) Alright, teachers. You’ve got 7 more days until break. You can do it!