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Four Tips for Small Group Math Time

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As I travel and walk-through classrooms, I have the opportunity to observe small group math time. Often, I am asked by administrators and teachers about making this time effective and conducive to student learning. Here are four tips to getting the most out of your small group math time.

  1. Structure – Students need to know the expectations and routines. I advocate for not rotating stations on a timer. Not every student learns or processes at the same rate. Create a structure where students rotate individually when he or she has met the learning goal for that station. No one is too young for this; I have seen this done successfully in kindergarten classrooms. One key to success in this area, is to teach and practice the routine.
  2. Student Accountability – At each station, expect students to be accountable and record their learnings. This will look different depending on the activity at the station. The recording does not need to be lengthy. It should not impede the learning but should solidify and explain the students’ learning. Expect students to keep a folder that tracks their accountability sheets.
  3. Engaging Activities – Each station should have a purpose, learning goal and or objective. Students can tell the difference between when we are “filling time” and when the activity is meaningful.
  4. Variety – Vary the  concepts in each of the stations. Also, vary  the learning styles students use.

Small group learning time is a great opportunity for differentiated instruction. Teachers do not have to require every student go to every station. Teachers can assign students which stations to complete based on individual learning needs. During this time, teachers are also able to pull specific students that are in need of additional instructional time on a concept.

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