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Guided Math Break Down

Hey there! Welcome back to part 2 of my guided math series. To check out part 1 on How to Set Up your Math Block here.

In my last post I shared how to set up your schedule for whole and small group instruction. Today I am going to share what I do during each of those times. Let’s create a vision shall we! Now I must warn you, this post is long. I go into detail about my entire math block and share lots of visuals. Don't worry, there is as goodie at the end just for you for sticking with me! 


Are you wanting to implement guided math in your classroom? This post includes a full break down of Marcy's schedule. She share ideas for whole group instruction, math stations and centers, lesson plan templates and so much more. Come check it out!


Every day I always start with a 5 minute warm up. My district pushes problem solving hard. Since our state tests are all in a problem solving format, I use this time to reinforce the skills needed in order to problem solve independently. Now my math block is first thing in the morning so I tie part of this into my morning work. If you choose to do math in the afternoon, it may be slightly different. 




When they come into the room in the morning, they have a word problem that goes in their math journal that they must complete independently and then they must complete a number of the day. After announcements, I spend 5 minutes reviewing the word problem that they had to complete. I’ll call on students to share different strategies they used to solve the problem. We start with these day one and the spiral different concepts throughout the year. You can get them here






Once those two things are completed and it's time to start our whole group lesson. I spend 20-30 minutes max teaching whole group. What do we do during this time? I keep it simple. When making out lesson plans I don’t try to plan an anchor chart and then a journal activity and a game all at one time. I choose one thing that I know I can do during that time span. Here are some examples of what you can do:

Anchor Charts
At the beginning of every new concept we make an anchor chart together as a class. I rarely have the all way way made before starting a lesson. I like to keep them interactive and student centered. I want my class to feel in charge and responsible of what they are learning. Here are some examples that we have as a class. 

The photos used to create this anchor chart can be found here


Read more about these here



Manipulatives
Math is meant to be hands on and interactive. Put away the worksheets and use manipulatives instead. Did you know that you can write on student desks with dry erase markers?!? YES, and they LOVE it!

White boards
Play showdown with whiteboards. This is a class favorite that I use in all subject areas. Display a set of task cards under your document camera or on your whiteboard. Have students solve on their whiteboards. When the teacher says "SHOWDOWN", everyone holds up their boards and you spot check answers.

Task Cards
I'm obsessed with task cards. I use them for EVERYTHING! Whole group, small group, stations, math journals, you name it! Here is what all you can do with them.
1. Play iSpy - tape the cards around the room. Have students go from card to card and solve.

Find this activity here


2. Scoot - place a card on each students desk. When the teacher says scoot, they move to the next desk and solve.
Find this activity here.

3. Find someone who - for fun, tape a card to each students back. Have them go around finding partners and solving the cards on each others back!
Find this activity here


4. Journals - print pages 2-4 to a page and use them as journal prompts. See how to do this here.



Math Journals 
We use our math journals daily for problem solving practice and then several days a week for our whole group lesson. Sometimes I use a premade template and other times I don't.Here are some examples.






Once we finish our whole group lesson we do a quick brain break. I mainly use GoNoodle. You can sign up for a free account and they have lots of videos geared towards academic content. Since we are just finishing our math lesson, I normally will choose as math video at this time. 

Then we move onto math stations. This is my favorite time of the day. The kids are broken up into groups and and working on various activities while I have a group at my teacher table. As I mentioned in post 1 of this series. We do stations for 45 minutes. I see three groups a day for 15 minutes each. 

How do I set my stations up? I have 5 different groups of students who are paired up by ability level. This is what my rotation chart looks like. I use a clothespin to move up and down to indicate which group is going where. 

Lions - Low
Gorillas - Low/Average
Pandas/Tigers - Average
Monkeys - High 

This is how I choose to organize my groups but obviously you can set yours differently. 


You can grab this rotation chart here. It includes 3 different versions (animal, numbers and color groups) and is also available in a digital format. 

How many stations should I have?

In past years I've had anywhere from 5-6 total stations. This year I currently have 5. 

Station 1 - always math facts (I alternate addition and subtraction)
Station 2 - previously taught skill
Station 3 - previously taught skill 
Technology - iPads, computers, or QR codes
Meet with the Teacher - at the teacher table

I use to have a separate station for math facts followed by 3 stations that spiraled skills so you can also do it this way. 

What activities should I include?
  • hands on learning: use those math manipulatives!
  • games
  • interactive journal activities
  • group or partner work
  • craftivities
Most of my activities come from my monthly math station sets but you can use any materials that you may have. I don't always have time to incorporate all the journal activities I want to do or to make that fun craft. Put those things in your stations. I always include an example without the answers and let them do it themselves. You'd be surprised at how well they can do. Examples shown below. 





When it comes to technology, I use a lot of different resources. 
  1. abcya.com : Free for grades k-5th. Very kid friendly.
  2. mathgames.com: Aligned with the CCS (other states can use too, I'm in Texas). Questions are test formatted. Free for grades PK-8th grade. Teacher creates student accounts to monitor. 
  3. www.kahnacademy.org: Very similar to the site above. Teachers create student accounts and can monitor progress. You can select questions based on the standard. Free for use. 
  4. mathlearningcenter.org: This site has lots of free tools for online manipulates as well as apps for tablets. Click on open web app under the activity you would like to use. 
  5. QR codes: Sometimes I'll use these for my technology station and other times, I'll include them in my other three. Download a QR code app onto any smart device. Students solve the problem and scan the code to check their answer. 

Teacher Table
 While the rest of your class is working independently in stations, you will be working with a group at your teacher table. I tell my students that this is the most important time of their math block. I do a mix of activities at my table. Any of the following things that I've mentioned in this post can be used. 
  • whole group lesson extension
  • journal activities
  • task cards
  • games
  • high order thinking questions 
I spend 15 minutes with each group and break it up into three parts. 
  1. Warm up activity: 3 minutes (previously taught skill
  2. Guided practice: 9 minutes (current skill)
  3. Reflection/Writing: 3 minutes
I keep my warm up simple. I may use flash cards or have them solve some task cards from a lesson we have done before. I normally will use something I already have prepped. Here, I used an activity for my spring math stations. When each group came to my table they worked together to put the 3D shape dominos in order. 

For guided practice, I'm working on the current skill but differentiating my instruction. For example, if you are working on adding two digit numbers. Your low students might need lots of support with manipulatives. Your average kids can start working on regrouping and your high kids can work on regrouping with 3 digits. 



I always close out my groups with a quick reflection. I'll have students write down what they just learned or tell me orally. Some questions I ask include: 
  • What was added to your knowledge
  • Tell something that stretched your thinking. 
  • Do you think what we just did is still hard? Why?
  • Do you think what we just did is getting easier? Why?
  • What will you change next time?



How do I keep track of what I'm doing with each group? This is where my guided math binder comes in. This thing saves my sanity. It holds all my lesson plans, data, notes, and planning pages. 

I actually don't do fancy lesson plans. I need them simple. I quickly jot down what I'm going to do each day with each group. 



At the beginning of each month, I map out what stations I'm going to do. This way I'm not worried about what to come up with week to week. I use a checklist to keep track of what I need to prep. You can get these along with the lesson plan template here



There you have it! That's my entire math block. You got the low down on exactly how I run guide math in my classroom. We went over what to do for whole and small group instruction. I hope this post gave you some sort of insight on how to get started. 

If you are reading this, I'm so proud of you for sticking with me this long. I have a special treat just for you! I'd like to share my guided math lesson plan template shown above! You can grab it here! All you need to do is fill out the form below!




Looking for some hands on math stations for your classroom? You can check out my monthly stations and the yearly bundle here


Want to save this post for later? Pin any of the images below!


This blog series goes into detail about how to implement guided math in your classroom.  Marcy shares ideas for managing your math block, instruction, math centers and so much more. Come check it out!






Setting Up Your Math Block

Welcome to 2018! It is no secret that I am huge believer in guided math. I’ve been teaching in this format for the last 4 years and I’ll never go back to whole group teaching again. The new year is perfect for trying out new things so let’s get started! I’m so excited about my new blog series to go along with my biggest passion, GUIDED MATH! Over the next few weeks we will be talking about the following:
·    1. Setting up your math block.
·    3. Materials
·    4. FUNctional stations and Differentiation
·    5. Data
·    6. Organization

Does that sound like a lot to process? Don’t worry we are going to take it slow. Let’s get started.

Are you struggling with out to organize your math block? This post is full of ideas on how to organize your math block efficiently in order to teach whole group and small group instruction.




What is guided math? It is a structured way of teaching with a mix of whole and small group instruction. It consists of the following components:
-whole group lesson
-small group lesson (at your teacher table)
-group stations (or centers)
-technology

Before we dive into all of the components, lets talk about your math block. First, you need to make sure that you have your math block set up to run smoothly for this transition and this style of teaching. One of my best tips for  you to take away from this is to BE FLEXIBLE!

There are going to be days where your stations do not run smoothly. There will be days when you don’t get to everything planned or to all the groups you have planned out. You’ll have a fire drill or a parent will show up unexpectedly with cupcakes. 

I’m lucky that my district gives me a 90 minute math block. In years past I’ve only had 60 minutes so I’m going to share examples of both time frames.

This is currently how my math block is structured and has been this way for the past 2 years. I have a total of 90 minutes and I always allow time for 2 brain breaks during this time.
 -20-30 minute whole group lesson
-3 rounds of math stations (15 minutes each)
- 2 brain breaks (3-5 mins each)
 Here it is broken down in detail.

Are you looking to start math stations in your classroom? This blog series breaks down everything you need to know about guided math and managing math centers in your classroom.

The first half of the year I spend 30 minutes for my whole group lesson. The second half of the year I try to cut it down to 20 minutes. Some days it works and other days I need that extra 10 minutes.
I also have my schedule set up to where I see 3 math groups a day for 15 minutes each. I have 5 groups total and with my schedule, I see each group twice a week. I’ll go into more detail with this in my next post.

Here are two other examples that go along with a 90 minute math block.

Are you looking to start math stations in your classroom? This blog series breaks down everything you need to know about guided math and managing math centers in your classroom.


The main difference with these and my current schedule are the following:

-Example 1 includes 2 20 minute rotations
-Example 2 includes 5 10 minute rotations

I’ve found that 10 minute is too short for ME but I know others who prefer it this way. You can adjust the time to see what works for you. 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time for me. As your kids build stamina you can also increase your time.

Here are some examples if you have a 60 minute math block. When I had this amount of time, I followed example 3. I also allowed time for one brain break.

Are you looking to start math stations in your classroom? This blog series breaks down everything you need to know about guided math and managing math centers in your classroom. One last option that I would like to share with you is a technique called Power Hour. This is when your core teaching is done during this time at your teacher table. It consists of the following:
-      Mini lesson (5-10 minutes)
-      4 15 minute rotations or 3 20 minute rotations of stations.
Your mini lesson consists of a quick introduction or review and then you are practicing those concepts at the small group table.

Are you looking to start math stations in your classroom? This blog series breaks down everything you need to know about guided math and managing math centers in your classroom.

 I hope this gave you a few ideas on how to organize your math block. In my next post I’ll be discussing how to create a vision for your math block. I’ll go into detail on what I do during my whole and small group times.

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Save this post for later by pinning the image below! 
Are you looking to start math stations in your classroom? This blog series breaks down everything you need to know about guided math and managing math centers in your classroom.




Headphone Storage

This year our PTO supplied each class with a class set of ear bud headphones.  I am so thankful but I cannot be the only teacher out there who kind of despises these little things. HA! They get tangled, the kids can't keep them in their ears, and then there was the argument over who was taking care of them and who wasn't. Now while all of these problems haven't been solved, I have finally found a storage solution that works for me. Did you know that they make pocket charts for cell phones?? I didn't even know this was a thing. Apparently, they are used in upper grades for teachers to store student phones during class. Who would have thought right? lol Now back to my point...

This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here.
The headphone storage battle is real. Come see how I solved this problem in my classroom.


I purchased this pocket chart off of Amazon that has been absolutely perfect. It came already labeled with numbers so that was an even bigger bonus since all of my kids are already assigned to a number for other classroom things.

Now each student keeps their set of headphones in their pocket and I have no more mess with plastic bags. Each set of headphones is also labeled with a sharpie so I know who they belong too if some friend decides not to put the back properly.

The headphone storage battle is real. Come see how I solved this problem in my classroom.

I do have a set of regular sized headphones from Lakeshore. These do fit in the pockets but you have to bend them some.  You can click here to grab this pocket chart on Amazon. 

Now this has solved my storage solution. If anyone has any ideas on how to keep these things untangled, you let me know!

Like this idea and want to save it for later? Pin the image below!

The headphone storage battle is real. Come see how I solved this problem in my classroom.


Have a great day!

Morning Tubs with Oriental Trading

Last year I made the switch from traditional morning work to using Morning Tubs. These have become a priority in my classroom. It allows students to "play" while actively exploring learning for a few minutes before we start our day.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.
This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here.


Morning Tub Procedures
Our school day starts at 7:35 with kids entering the classroom and announcements at 7:50. That 15 minute time period is my morning tub time. Once announcements are over they have approximately 2-3 minutes to clean up and get ready to start our day.


I have 4 different tubs that I set up each week and I also have 4 table groups that rotate through the tubs each day. 2 of my tubs are have some sort of academic content behind them and the other two are geared towards play or STEM.

Morning Tub Storage
I use these Sterilite shoe box sized containers to hold my materials. They are perfect for holding manipulatives, games, task cards, and more.  You can snag the labels here for free.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.



What's Inside? 
This summer I was looking for more activities to use in my tubs. I turned to Oriental Trading.  They have some great, affordable options when it comes to teacher supplies. Here are some of the things that I've been using so far this school year.

Geometric Building Set
This set is perfect for STEM. The pieces are made of a durable plastic and come in various sizes. These pieces are perfect for building various 2D and 3D structures through exploration.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.


Block Play Set
These plastic building blocks are the perfect manipulative for exploration. They can be used for STEM, math lessons, building letters for sight words and so much more.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.


These foam building blocks are perfect for constructing just about anything. There are four different types of connector pieces to build different structures. 

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.

Morning Tubs have taken the place of traditional morning work in my classroom. This blog post features items from Oriental Trading that have allowed students to explore the power of learning through play.


So far all of these items have been a huge hit and I would recommend them for any classroom. I do believe that the power of play can be a wonderful thing. It opens so many opportunities for learning and allows kids to enjoy being kids for a few minutes of our day. You can also set up a classroom wishlist with Oriental Trading. This allows you to send it out to parents and others who may be interested in supporting your classroom. Read all about how to do this here. 

 I can't wait to see where Morning Tubs take us this year. Have you tried Morning Tubs in your classroom? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Disclosure: I was provided items to review by Oriental Trading, but all opinions expressed are my own. 



10 Whole Group Classroom Management Ideas

Starting the year off right with a strong classroom management plan will play a big part in how your school year will go. Today I'm going to share with you 10 strategies I use for whole group management. 

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here


From day 1 I introduce non-verbal hand signals in my class. These are used to keep disruptions minimal while teaching. These posters are displayed near the front of my classroom so that students can always see them. They simply hold up a number with their fingers when they need something. If it is an ok time, I simply give them a thumbs up. If I want them to wait until I'm finished and then they can get up, I give them a thumbs sideways. If it is something I do not want them to do then I respond with a thumbs down.

Non-verbal hand signals are the perfect way to help minimize disruptions during your class instruction. This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right.





This strategy is so simple and so effective. The goal is for your students to get more tally marks in a day than the teacher. Simply make a T chart on your board with the words teacher and students. Any time throughout the day that students are working hard and following directions, give them a point.  I like to also have them say a fun saying too. Example: I love how quietly we all got up and walked to our seats. Give yourselves are yee-haw! Then the whole class says yee-haw and throws their arms in the air.

If at anytime they aren't following directions then the teacher gets a point. Example: Our class was very noisy during the hallway a few minute ago. That makes me so sad. I'll say something like whomp, whomp, whomp and the kids have to repeat it while I'm giving myself a tally.

The goal is for the students to have more tally marks than the teacher at the end of the day.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.


Another option is to use happy and sad faces rather than the words teacher and student. My class was super into emojis last year so I made this poster using them. The concept works the same way. Their goal is to have more tally marks under the happy face rather than the sad face at the end of the day. You can grab these dry erase pockets here.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

If they had more tally marks than the teacher then they got to draw a picture card for our #hardwork board.


All through out the day I'm looking for positive behavior to compliment. When I see something worth sharing, I let them pick a number for our #hardwork board! This management system is a great visual incentive for students to work towards a reward. 

I placed a blank board in a plastic sleeve and hung it on our white board with a clip. Print the reward cards and laminate them. Then, write the numbers 1-10 on the back with a marker. 

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.


As you spot positive behavior throughout the day, let a student draw a picture card and place it on the matching number on the #hardwork board. I let students pick 1-2 cards per day. Here are some things I look for when letting them pick a picture. 
1. Sitting quietly on the carpet.
2. Working well with their table groups or partners.
3. Small group behavior
4. Participating
5. Using kind words
6. Hallway behavior 
7. Specials behavior

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.


As more pictures get added the the board, a picture of their reward will start to be revealed. When they fill up their entire board, they get the prize that is featured in the picture.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

Some of the other whole group rewards I've done are:
-popcorn day
-lemonade day
-extra recess
-flash light learning
-barefoot day
-pillow day
 These are just a few examples.



I bought these letters from Hobby Lobby that make the word 'noise'. I added magnets to the back so that I could use them on my whiteboard. Anytime the class is too noisy, I remove a letter. If they loose all their letters they have time off of recess or another activity that they get excited about.


This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.



Attention getters or call backs are a big hit in my classroom. These are used when you are wanting to bring the class back together or get their attention. The teacher calls out a silly phrase and your students respond back with a silly phrase.  However the teacher says the phrase, that is how they have to repeat it. For example, if I say "hocus pocus" in a low deep voice, then the students will respond with "everybody focus" in a low deep voice. When finished, they are suppose to be sitting or standing quietly with their eyes on you. Here are some of my favorites. You can click here to grab this free printable

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.


I gave up my treasure box along time ago and switched to reward coupons. My favorite part about these is that they cost me very little money. I also have it set up to where it is completely student ran so that I'm not taking time out of our day to pass out rewards. I use ClassDojo and reward students with points throughout the day. For every ten points, they earn a reward from our coupon book.

I bought a 1.5" binder and inside there are plastic sleeves with the reward titles inside. I put several copies of each reward coupon inside the sleeve.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

I also have our notebook divided into sections for each point level. When they hit the next set of 10 points, they come get the binder from the shelf and choose the reward themselves. For example, when they hit 70 points, they can choose from anything behind that label. It's completely student centered and very little prep for me.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.




I'm always looking for ways to promote kindness in the classroom. I got this idea from my teacher partner several years ago and have loved using it. Have children sit in a circle with their legs out in front of them. Pass around a small object such as a ball or maker. The person holding the object must say a compliment about someone with their legs out. Once done, the person passes the object to the next person and tucks their legs in. This continues until everyone has had a chance to go and allows each child to say a compliment and give a compliment. I like to do this every six weeks or so to remind students how important it is to compliment one another.



Behavior Bingo is another class favorite when it comes to working hard for a reward. When extraordinary behavior is spotted, I'll call on a student to come draw a number for our bingo board.
This is placed in a plastic sheet protector and I use a dry erase marker to circle the number that was drawn. When students complete a full line, they are rewarded.
This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.


I reward my tables with points on ClassDoJo. If you don't use ClassDojo then you could easily give table points with tally marks on your white board. Here is what my table groups looked like. Throughout the day I would give points to groups for various things such as team work and working quietly.



At the end of the week the table with the most points got to use the VIP supplies the following week. This is a caddy that contained special supplies that the other kids were not allowed to use. Here are some ideas that you can include in your VIP caddy.
-special pencils
-mechanical pencils
-smelly markers
-flair pens
-glitter pens
-dry erase markers


The caddy just travels to different tables each week rewarding those with good behavior.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.


When it comes to transitions and getting my students attention, my wireless doorbell is my favorite! This little thing has over 50 different chimes. You just plug it into an outlet and you are good to go. Whenever we are transitioning from small groups or other times throughout the day, I'll ring the doorbell and the kids know it is time to stop what they are doing and clean up.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

This blog post is full of classroom management ideas to help start back to school off right. These strategies are perfect for whole group instruction.

Want to save some of these ideas for later? Pin the images below!


Classroom management is so important. Come read how I use a wireless doorbell in my classroom to help control transitions.

These whole group classroom management boards are the perfect incentive for my classroom. Come read all about how I use them to control the chaos in my classroom.


If you're looking for more classroom management ideas, check out my Pinterest board! 













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