Guided Math Schedule

One of the hardest decisions to make about Guided Math in the classroom seems to be how to set up the schedule.  There are so many moving parts and different activities going on that sometimes I get overwhelmed.

Our day starts with a Number of the Day and Math Meeting.  We spend up to 10 minutes a day, but no more!  I set timers to keep myself on track!  The kids are sitting on the rug during this time so I am also making sure they are not sitting on the floor too long!  After we finish the number of the day (5 Minutes), we stand up! Next we skip count, use the 100’s chart and 1,000 chart to find numbers and practice a fact strategy like doubles and doubles plus one (play SPARKLE or another fast paced high interest game!).


Our next step is to move into the Mini-Lesson portion.  I know it says mini lesson, but this might be a variety of things!  It is not always direct instruction. It could be an anticipation guide, word splash, literature connection, math talk or huddle, games and music or using technology like Kahoot!  Whatever I choose, I make sure it last 7-8 minutes. then the work begins!  I needed a way to see which group my students needed to be in for the daily skill.  My students get out their whiteboards and markers.  I give them a problem, they solve and show work.  I walk around and check, keeping track of who can and cannot do the skill.  These problems are the most important problems of the day!  The guided practice problems need to TELL me which level my students are on.  Look for problems that highlight a misconception.


When we are finished with the guided practice, we start stations.  I know the experts say that a guided math group needs to have fewer than 6 students, but I have too many kids in my class and not enough time to have groups that small! I usually have 7 or 8 kids in a group.   I have three lesson plans ready- intervention, on level and enrichment.   Sometimes I have two groups of intervention and one group of enrichment, so this is the main reason I teach this way!  There are many ways to differentiate math lessons, content (what is being learned), process (the actual activity), or product (how the student demonstrates mastery).  Most of the time my differentiation is process and content.




Now that all of the groups are taught, I am free to breathe!  I use about 5 minutes of this time to make notes about student learning.  Documentation is important to the RTI process, so I set aside a couple of minutes at the end of instruction to take care of the paperwork!  When I am finished, I join a station game and play with kids, have a drop in conference with a student that is in the problem solving station, or have a one on one conference with a student at my table.  Basically, I have 10 minutes to watch kids learning, talk to them about their learning or enjoy playing a game with them.  The kids love it when I sit down and play with them.  The competition level goes way up when they are trying to beat the teacher!


Whole class activity time is next.  We clean up and head back to our desks.  Now that I know kids have practiced the skill, the whole class active engagement is done.  Activities like SCOOT, Scavenger Hunt, Mystery Challenge, Ghost in the Graveyard or Minute to Win It are very popular with my kids!

The exit ticket is given in the last 5 minutes of class.  I want to see if the students learned what I wanted them to learn during the class time.  I know I taught it (like 4 times!), but did they learn it?

Close Reading Strategies for Math

Editable Templates for All Activities

If you would like the templates to create these activities for your classroom from the workshop: Text 33444 with the word GUIDED


Problems Worth Solving

When students have the opportunity to solve real problems that mean something to them, math happens naturally.  They are not looking for key words or trying to find the pattern.  There is a difference between students working problems that can be done the same way each and every time and looking at the information and solving a problem that applies to them!  When you are looking for a problem worth solving, the internet is your friend!  I find the best problems by looking at things my students are interested in- a fun theme park, a bowling alley, a trampoline park etc...  When you use this kind of information, it is easier for students to solve problems because they are no longer thinking about the steps they need to take, but they are thinking about what the operations do to numbers.

Cube It

Cube it is a strategy that uses all of the levels of Blooms.  Start with a cube template.  Create tasks and questions using the information in your problem worth solving.  Students roll the cube and complete the task.

Say Mean Matter

Say Mean Matter is a strategy to help students see what the information says, then decide what it means and most importantly why  it matters.  Students are familiar with author's purpose- why did the author include this in the passage, is a question they have been answering for a long time!  When they see the problem as something written by a human, then things matter!  Tip: When working with younger students, you need to pick the phrases to analyze.  If you don't they will pick something that doesn't matter!  After they use this strategy, they will start to see what matters and what does not matter in a math situation!


This strategy is for close reading of math word problems. As students closely read a math problem, they should identify:

The facts they KNOW from the information given in the problem

The information given in the problem that they do NOT need

What the problem WANTS them to find

What STRATEGY or operations will be used to solve the problem

Read Again, And Again, And Again!

Teach students how to read the text three times.

During the first read, students should read for the “gist” of the source text

On the second read, students should dig a little deeper and look closely at the numbers and what they represent.

With the third read, students should integrate knowledge and ideas by putting everything together.

When you finish, have students write their own problem using the information from the text on a sticky note.  Then play musical shares!

Guided Solving

One strategy that may be familiar to elementary reading teachers, and which seems particularly useful in the context of mathematics, is that of guided reading sessions (Allen, 2003). In such sessions, the teacher is still responsible for helping students connect what they are reading to prior knowledge. The teacher should first present the text or graphic to students in small, coherent segments, being sure to process each segment before going on to the next one. As the reading progresses, the teacher should ask process questions that she wants the students to ask themselves in the future. They may be asked to predict what the reading will be about simply by reading the title of the piece (if there is one, such as a graph or story problem). Next the students should make two columns on a piece of paper, one headed “What I Predict” and the other headed “What I Know.” Once the students have silently read each section of the piece, they should fill out each column accordingly. At this point, the teacher should ask students questions such as the following:

What would you be doing in that situation?

Does this make sense?

What does the picture/graph/chart tell you?

How does the title connect to what we're reading?

Why are these words in capital letters?

Why is there extra white space here?

What does that word mean in this context?

Editable Templates for All Activities

If you would like the templates to create these activities for your classroom from the workshop: Text 33444 with the word GUIDED


4 Classroom Management Must Haves for a New Teacher

New Teacher’s worry most about classroom management- and they should!  Studies have shown that teachers who have problems with behavior management and classroom discipline are frequently ineffective in the classroom.  They are more likely to burnout and leave the profession.  We also know that if you can’t get the kids to sit down and listen- even the greatest lesson that you spent hours prepping will not work.  These are the 4 most important things to get you through the first 2 weeks of school.

Plan ALL of your Procedures

The first step to getting classroom management under control begins way before you set foot in the classroom.  Start by developing your rules and procedures.  Plan these routines in great detail.  It is the little things that will drive you crazy during the year.  You also want to shut down any reason to argue about a procedure later!  Here are some of the main procedures that drive teachers crazy!

  1. Trash- How will kids throw away trash?  Will they get up during a lesson to take something to the trash can?  Do they throw it on the floor? Stuff it in their desks?
  2. Pencils- When do kids sharpen pencils?  What do they do if they don’t have a pencil?  How do they borrow a pencil AND return it?
  3. Dry Erase Markers- How do they get a marker?  Do they scribble all over their whiteboard while you are talking?  Do they leave the cap off?
  4. Whiteboards- How do they get them?  Where are they stored?

If you would like a copy of all of the procedures I had in my classroom, click the image to the right.  This is something I give to new teachers at the beginning of the year.  We make changes to fit their needs, but make sure we have everything written down.  Put a copy of all of your procedures in your substitute file, and they will have a much easier day!

Click for Procedures and Routines!

Strong Voice

Practice your teacher voice!  A strong clear voice is very powerful.  When you talk to students, remember to stand up, square up, and stand still!  Use a formal tone.  You are not their friend, you are the boss.  There should not be a hint of “maybe just this once you can get away with not doing what I ask”.  Don’t use slang language- “Dude, I said sit down!”  Is not as powerful as, “Michael, sit down.”

Practice wait time.  This is one of the steps that trips teachers up.  They ask the class to be quiet, but don’t wait for that direction to be followed.  They rush to the next direction.  Not all students hear and then need all of the directions repeated.  This is VERY frustrating to the teacher and to the students who are listening.  If the words come out of your mouth, wait for them to be followed.

Plan your First Week of School

Plan which procedures kids need each day and then teach them before they will need it.

What will you say to introduce the procedures?  I always use the acronym CHAMPS.

C is the conversation level

H is how the student gets help

A is the activity

M is the movement

P is what does it look like when everyone is participating.


For most of the procedures, I make small anchor charts to post around the room near the area that the procedure happens.

Give crisp instructions.  Don’t use too many words.  Be specific with what you want kids to do.


Day 1

Entering the Classroom


Going to Lunch

Line Up


Day 2

Getting Supplies

Teacher Attention Signal

Turning in Papers

Going to PE, Music, Art or Computer

Day 3

Getting Help

Sharpening Pencils

Cleaning Room at the End of the Day

Day 4

Dry Erase Markers

Sitting SLANT Ready to Learn

Day 5

Review Entering the Classroom

Practice Makes Perfect

After you teach a procedures, never and I mean never allow it to be done incorrectly.  Wait for 100{ead11f5758ba27f8b85d16bb338278bf88aa311cb7529b45aa5c71cfd4587f47} compliance.  If the class needs to practice again, no big deal.  It’s not a punishment.  You don’t need to be angry.  I used to put a big #9 on my back wall to remind me that these kids had only made the trip around the sun 9 times.  They were still young humans.  It is not personal and it’s okay to practice.  Make it a challenge with a reward at the end when they get it right!  The first two weeks of school set the tone and pace for the rest of the year.  Be consistent!

Teacher Radar

You have to learn to know when students are off task.  Scan the room looking for areas that are commonly off task.  Most of the time these will be the places where students are farthest away from you.  Make it obvious you are looking.  Move slow as you walk the perimeter and through the desks.  Developing the teacher look takes time, but you will get it!  You mean business!

Guided Math Unit Planning

Unit planning is a task!

One of the things I saw teachers struggling with is what to teach on which day!  I think that is the struggle for all of us.  When you get a list of TEKS and a set number of days it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  I want to share how I plan for a unit.


  1. The first step is to decide what you want the students to learn.  I start with a 5 column chart. (See sample - click on picture for link to Learning Target form) This chart helps me to decide what I want the students to learn.  I break the TEKS into small chunks. I only include one verb and one piece of content.  For example:  If the TEKS is 3.4(A) solve with fluency one-step and two-step problems involving addition and subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and the relationship between addition and subtraction, then I would write 9 learning targets.  I would not expect to have 9 days to teach this TEK, but there are 9 skills a student needs to be able to do in this TEK:
    1. solve with fluency one-step  problems involving addition  within 1,000 using strategies based on place value.
    2. solve with fluency one-step  problems involving addition  within 1,000 using strategies based on  properties of operations
    3. solve with fluency one-step  problems involving addition  within 1,000 using strategies based on the relationship between addition and subtraction
    4. solve with fluency one-step  problems involving  subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on place value
    5. solve with fluency one-step  problems involving  subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on properties of operations
    6. solve with fluency one-step  problems involving  subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on the relationship between addition and subtraction
    7. solve with fluency one-step and two-step problems involving addition and subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on place value
    8. solve with fluency one-step and two-step problems involving addition and subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on properties of operations
    9. solve with fluency one-step and two-step problems involving addition and subtraction within 1,000 using strategies based on the relationship between addition and subtraction




The next step is to decide how I will know if the student can do the skill.   I look to see how it is tested on STAAR. (STAAR is the Texas state assessment.)   I make sure ALL of the skills listed in the TEKS are written down. I use this information to create my unit test and daily exit tickets.  Then I create an exit ticket for each learning target.

The third step is to plan for intervention.  I try to think of all the activities and strategies I know that might help if a student doesn't understand the learning target.  I make these notes in the third column.

Next, I plan for enrichment.  I look at the standards that are coming up that are related to this TEK or look at the next grade level for the connected skill.  I then try to think of at least one thing for each learning target that will grow the math understanding for the kids who already get it.

Now I can start to put things on the calendar!  I block of the number of days I have to teach and then look for learning targets that go together and put those on the calendar.  In the example above, I would put Learning Target 1 and 3 together.  If you have other TEKS done as learning targets you will find that you can teach multiple parts of TEKS on the same day.

After I get the learning targets on the calendar, I decide how my whole class teach time will go.  I have a list of different ways to teach durning whole class teach time from Laney Sammon's book: Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction. (If you haven't read this book, I highly encourage you to!  It has changed the way I teach Math!) I try to vary my instruction.  This keeps me from defaulting to the mini-lesson.  I want the kids to do more work than me!

Next, I plan for Guided Math.  I find hands-on activities that students can do at the small group table.  I want them to be quick and action packed!

Finally, I write the daily plans!  Most of the decision making is done.  I look at the exit ticket for that day and make sure I am on track with my teaching!

Once the unit planning is done, I know I will stay focused and have ways to track student progress.  I use the learning target sheet to create a student tracking form so kids can see where they are! These are great to use during parent conferences!  I also have plenty of data to take to RTI meetings!

I usually map two or three units at a time so I don't get behind!