# Math..... after the whole group lesson.... HELP! ... and vent....

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Mrs Teacher, Apr 2, 2012.

1. ### Mrs TeacherRookie

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Apr 2, 2012

How do you organize your math block? From those that I know personally, many begin with a whole group lesson and then branch off in different avenues to practice.

At my school there is an expectation that students practice the skill that is introduced in the whole group lesson immediately and for the whole time. It is also expected that students are grouped (usually homogeneously... though not necessarily always) and simultaneously practice the skills after the whole group lesson. The teacher is expected to float around from group to group to assist, probe with questions, etc... then move on to the next group.

To me.... it's beyond intimidating, chaotic, and requires boat loads of work.... and when going from group to group, I feel like i'm spinning out of control...

Problem #1 - when I'm with 1 group, the other groups are likely to be either done, in need of help, or goofing off.

Problem #2 - if I'm introducing a concept, it's quite difficult to think of a means to practice the new concept right away with it being a teacher guided group. They want us to not pull a group to a table and work directly with them.... because they want all groups to be practicing immediately.

Problem #3 - If i want to do centers... well... it doesn't matter... we can't. We are being told that if they don't practice the skill immediately they will not grasp it. So if I introduce a new concept and divide the class into 3 or 4 groups (which is low at times considering my class size!) I should not have other groups work on other math skill review or math games, especially if it's not DIRECTLY related to the lesson of that day.

Problem #4 - In order to have groups working simultaneously I need to spend a ridiculous amount of time at home preparing tasks for each group. I need to make them leveled, I need to decide how long the task should be so they don't finish too quickly and it doesn't take them forever, and I need to judge the level of difficulty so they aren't flying through it and they're not completely lost. (Did I mention we have no text books and no resources... we build the curriculum materials ourselves).

SO... that being said... help....? :unsure:

3. ### czaczaMultitudinous

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Apr 2, 2012

Whole group 'mini lesson'
Independent practice...I can pull small groups at this time as needed
Partner games to reinforce current concepts as students finish
Whole group recap

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Apr 2, 2012

I'm wondering--is the P and team leaders giving you advice or commands? I think it is great that they are giving you some guidance, but I think that either: a) they are controlling you too much and not giving you room to make decisions OR b) you perceive that they are being really rigid, but that you might be able to be more flexible with how to teach math in your classroom.

I have had 7 principals in 3 different schools in 20 years. I have never had a situation where they micromanage to the point that you are being forced to teach in a way that isn't helping the children. If it was me, I'd close the door and teach the best way that you know how. If you are afraid of getting in trouble...ask really carefully for a little leeway from your P in order to help children and raise test scores.

5. ### CFClassroomConnoisseur

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Apr 3, 2012

I'm actually in the process of putting together a video series on my math workshop, but in the meantime...

I do a workshop rotation and LOVE it.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kpxzvbkEQ.../fu6RDtgPPC4/s400/math_workshop_rotations.jpg

A few years back, I was finding that my friends were really struggling to attend during our math block. We were following the curriculum as prescribed, but it called for long sessions of whole group "discussions" which never played out the way they did in the teacher's guide.

I couldn't help but notice that the kids were tending to language arts without problem, but that math was a challenge. I decided to try using the same rotation strategies that I used for Guided Reading and voila! Why hadn't I started doing that sooner?

I had reservations because I didn't want to stray from the curriculum, but with a little planning I was able to cover what was required...and more! Instead of having all the students sit for a long lesson and then go off for the activities, I break the lesson down into small groups and teach the content as mini lessons (much like the Daily 5). By having the students in small groups I am able to easily differentiate instruction and it assures that each and every child gets a fair share of my attention. I feel like I know my students as mathematicians so much better.

Here's how I manage it:

My 4 rotations spell out the word MATH:

M=Math Facts
All of the games and activities in this station are designed to strengthen computation skills. We use flash cards, online games, practice pages, array cards, etc.

This is where they do independent practice activities such as math journals, number of the day, word problems and the required math practice pages from the student workbooks.

T=Teacher's Choice
It used to just be "Teacher" and that was the station where they worked with me. However, I found that there were days when I did not need to meet with each and every group so I changed it to "Teacher's Choice." Typically, I will meet with them as a guided math group, but I also use this time to meet 1:1 for individual math conferences, circulate to assist with games, or whatever needs to be done that day.

H=Hands-On Manipulatives
This is my favorite station. It's where the kids learn by doing and it's magical to see the light bulb pop on.

Using the acronym MATH makes it even easier for my friends to know where to go next in the rotation. They simply need to spell the word.
FYI: I cut and pasted the above directly from my blog post. There's more info there on how I made the board.

6. ### SamenamesNew Member

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Apr 3, 2012

Love the idea posted above! What curriculum are you using? I think it's a bit rash of your leaders to determine that if all students don't practice the skill immediately then it's gone forever. A bit of nonsense if you ask me. One method that worked for me was to break the class into two groups: below benchmark and meeting/above benchmark. I started by teaching the lesson to my students that needed more attention. We worked more slowly, did more sample problems together, and created more models. During this time, the meeting/above benchmark students work in pairs or independently on finishing the work from the day before. They were tasked with meeting with a partner, reviewing the learning from yesterday's lesson, completing their assignment, and then first checking their work with a partner and then with the answer sheet. If they missed fewer than 2 problems, they moved on to independent fun math tasks that were in a math basket. If they missed more than 2 problems, they could choose to either reread the lesson page, buddy up with a peer tutor, or rework the problems again. Once I was done with the lower students, they went off to work in pairs or alone and I taught the same lesson at a much faster pace to the higher students. Since this generally only took 10 minutes, I then had about 20 minutes to be available at the end to look over students' work, check in with those who needed help, etc.

Would a model like that possibly work for you?

7. ### GarethRookie

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Apr 3, 2012

When we did group math blocks we had a few older students to come in a help the little ones. This didn't always work effectively but the older students could help the younger students with small problems. I also worked with a very experienced teacher who just didn't do math groups because of the same reason (because it was chaotic). So I don't think there's anything wrong with just not doing the groups at all. Either teacher the whole class or, like Samenames mentioned, just split your class into two groups.

8. ### FourSquareFanatic

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Apr 3, 2012

Could you put your higher kids on computer sites related to the skill you're teaching? Do you have Study Island? This would free you up to float between the lower and on level kids.

Right now I am doing more whole group guided practice. I teach a skill and then we work through several problems together on whiteboards and/or using manipulatives. They may have an exit ticket at the end for independent practice.

I am trying to move towards a more workshop approach like what was explained above. I took my kids through the stations and we discussed routines the week before break. We're going to try one rotation on Monday. My kids are really excited and so am I!

9. ### iteachbxEnthusiast

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Apr 3, 2012

After our mini lesson the kids go back to their seats for independent practice, but it's usually only differentiated into 2 maybe 3 different types of worksheets. However students are all working independently at this time. I would then pull a small group of students to practice a different strategy with. For example, if I taught place value to the whole class I might pull a small group of 4-5 students who need to use base-ten blocks to solve the problems, and show them how to use the blocks to aid them. Then we would all return to the rug together and share. Students who finish early work on review worksheets, anything that was taught previously. (My co-teacher would do the same thing parallel with her own group, except the share would be all together.)

After the share, students would work in partners on an open ended question. Then we would share again after the open ended question.

10. ### applecoreDevotee

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Apr 7, 2012

Beth Newingham uses Everyday Math and teaches in 3 rotations with a mini lesson at the beginning.
http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top_teaching/2010/05/math-workshop

I modeled my math block using her concepts and have LOVED teaching math. It got a little chaotic in the beginning with the kids learning the routines and expecations, but they love it, I love teaching, the sound of the room buzzes with math and everyone's learning or reviewing something about math.

A quick peak goes something like this....

Review/preteach---past and new concepts
rotate stations---my kids are practicing the skills they are learning...and I have proof.
Groups are: teacher (lesson), independent(worksheet/math joural pages/math fact practices, games (group work) math concept practice or word problems..

One thing I learned was making sure I grouped students according to their learning and how they were together; all boys and girl groups don't make for a working enviornment for my class!

One important thing that I forgot to add....

My principal came in one day and saw us working, he also noticed my white board has turned into a math concept board with my math groups on it. My heart was racing like crazy because I wasn't sure if he would approve or not, seeing how I don't share everything what I'm doing in my class until after I have data to back it up....I tend to do things "out of research". I'm a rebel that way...and thankful he's been supportive every time. Any ways....I got :thumb::thumb:. Phew! Not that I'm supporting you doing anything that will get you fired, but sometimes it's best (so I've learned) to keep things on the down low with some amazing data to back it up!

11. ### Mrs TeacherRookie

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Apr 11, 2012

This seems like a really neat idea! I don't know if it would work for me because if I split the class into just 2 groups, my groups would still be gigantic. Also, the administration doesn't want them working on anything that isn't directly related to the main topic of the lesson. So if i'm teaching addition fractions with unlike denominators, that's what they need to be doing.

But I definitely agree with you on not teaching the lesson to the whole class... it's so hard to pace... i'm either going too slow for the high kids, or too fast for the low kids.

I do like the idea of having the higher kids work on the assignment the next day... but again.. this contradicts what my administration wants.. ugh

12. ### Mrs TeacherRookie

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Apr 11, 2012

This is similar to what I have done in the past. Maybe I need to just tweak it... my admin is very intimidating though. Essentially they require that the kids practice the skill of that day, the whole time. I used to have 3 stations and 1 station would involve review of an old concept. The challenge was... What can my kids do so that it is not busy work, but it's something they can do on their own without needing help? I ended up going back to skills they practically mastered and had them revisit it so it would always stay fresh in their minds. That way they wouldn't bother my guided group with tons of questions.

They don't want me doing that.

So i'm thinking now, perhaps I can do what you mentioned, but just make sure the "review" station is not really review of an old skill.. but something that pertains to the lesson. The challenge is... what can they do, and how much time will I spend at home making worksheets to do that... and how many different worksheets will I have to make because each groups independent ability for that skill will vary greatly.

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Apr 11, 2012