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Guided Math for Differentiation-My Journey!

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Teaching math in small groups will benefit everyone!!!!

Are your students all at different levels in math and moving at different paces? Most teachers will answer this question with a "YES"! Then the next response is how in the world can I teach all these levels and reach all their needs at once. Differentiation might be the answer you are given. This answer is correct. Now the question is how do you do that effectively?


My Journey into Teaching Guided Math in Small Groups

My story and journey to Guided Math.

One year I stopped and reflected on the end of the year test scores for my class. I teach in Florida and this was back during FCAT time. I was so disappointed because the kids that started low stayed low and the others were just average. Don't judge me, I am HUMAN and reflecting solved this problem for me! I KNEW I had kids that were going to get 5s but none of them did. They were capable, so I had to ask myself why they didn’t achieve it. That is when I realized I was teaching math WRONG. YES, you heard me, I was teaching math WRONG. I was holding my High Achievers back so I could try and keep the class together. I also didn’t have time to truly push my lower students to help them make gains. What I was doing was holding their hands too much so they would move faster BUT they weren’t able to do the work without having their hands held (which I couldn’t do on the test).

I spent that summer reflecting even more and creating a plan to change my entire math block. When I went back to school I was excited to put my plan into action. It wasn’t perfect, but I could see a difference within the first few weeks of school. I had to tweak my plan but I KNEW I had to continue teaching students in small groups.

This is what worked for ME when teaching math rotations with small group instruction EVERY DAY!

I start the class by spending a few minutes teaching a mini-lesson if I see the majority of the class is making the same wrong mistakes on a concept. It is a good review for the kids that are higher. I never spend more than 5-10 minutes here and this isn’t done every day. Then we go into groups. I have three rotations a day that last about 20-30 mins each depending on the time. I also take a day here and there to teach a whole group lesson (which might be a review for some and an introduction for others) but I like to include hands-on activities, crafts, etc. This also helps change up the teaching style to keep kids engaged!


Check out my blog post on the process I used for Guided Math! Don't forget to subscribe to learn about my classroom and teaching tips that might impact you!


Disclaimer: My math rotations didn’t form overnight. It took time to figure out what worked for me. Some people have tried to copy my method and weren’t successful because they didn’t make it their own. Many people have taken the ideas and have run with them, which helped them show great success. I also have had classes that needed me to change my processes based on behaviors and other situations, but I have never gone back to teaching whole group. The links provided are just things I have used and merely suggestions. Please take the time to find what works for you in your classroom with your students!


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