Has anyone tried that before? I'm new to teaching and have been having trouble trying to cater towards different levels of understanding within my classroom (2rd grade), and am looking for solutions!

Welcome to the world of teaching! You seem to be focused on differentiating instruction right out of the gate. As a former teacher, I would guess that the range of abilities among your 2nd graders is probably not that great (with a few exceptions). Before you dive into adding more layers to your workload, I would suggest that you stick to teaching the whole class using accelerated teaching methods. Focus on helping your students to gain mastery of the basic math concepts for their grade level which is critical for their future success.

Thank you! It's been great so far. What exactly do you mean by accelerated teaching methods? And would you say that when I am more experienced, or if I were teaching an upper elementary class, it would be more appropriate to add more differentiated instruction? Thanks again--

I do guided math daily. Instead of teaching one lesson whole group, I divide my class into four groups and teach the concept four ways. I am locked in to a specific curriculum I have to use, but I assign different problems and teach different strategies to my different groups. I often push my high group up to the related standard one grade level about mine.

Since so many students today are often functioning far below grade level, I believe it's paramount that teachers accelerate the entire learning process so that they can get back on track as soon as possible and become academically competitive. I used to purposely plan my lessons (I'm retired now) with hardly any downtime for my hard-working students and maintained such a fast pace that everyone had to "run" to keep up with me! So, my focus on accelerated teaching resulted in accelerated learning! Click on this link, if you would like to see how I used technology and applied linguistics to accelerate literacy instruction with elementary students. You can also type in the search words intelligent intervention welcome and go to the Gallery where you'll find several video clips that show what I accomplished with the lowest 2nd grade class in a chronically low-performing school. IMO, there's an over-emphasis on differentiated instruction in our schools to the point that the total number of groups for reading, writing, math, etc. often become too overwhelming for teachers. As a special ed. teacher I was expected to differentiate instruction for everyone, but through many trials and tribulations I found a different and much more effective way to achieve instructional multiple objectives simultaneously in a short period of time for my 2nd-6th graders.

I do guided math in kindergarten as well. It gives me a much better look into each students' abilities in math. If it's your first year, I wouldn't wear yourself out differentiating everything because it will take you time to get used to the curriculum first and I know my first year I was just exhausted. But I think this is an excellent way of teaching math, so if you feel you have the energy, go for it!

I did guided math when I taught grade 2. I loved it! I was wondering how to meet the diverse needs in my classroom, and since guided reading worked so well with ELA, I figured guided math could work, too. Each day my students went to 1 station, while I worked with a small group doing targeted skill instruction. I used the Math Recovery assessment and teaching tools to determine groups and then plan lessons. My stations were: 1. Math by Myself - students completed math tasks individually - this was always a review of a skill that I knew everyone could do on their own 2. Math with a partner - usually a math game that we'd played in class before 3. Math with tools - completing a math task using manipulatives or technology. 4. Math with the teacher - guided math Our guided math time ran for about 20 minutes per day. I met with each group at least once a week and I felt like everyone was finally getting what they needed, including my high flyers. This was a great opportunity to do some challenging problem solving with them.

I did guided math when I taught second grade. A great resource is a teacher by the name Anna Aprea Digilio from New York (she has a facebook group and tpt store under the name Simply Skilled in Second). She has fantastic resources for teaching guided math in elementary school.

Here are two articles that may help provide you with some insight. The Chinese Have Some Important Things to Teach Us About Educating Our Kids What Makes Great Teaching

After reading the articles, you can decide for yourself. Increasing cultural diversity is a growing trend in many countries, including the United States. Many teachers seem to think that increased diversity means more small group instruction. However, recent bona fide studies have corroborated the disadvantages of small group instruction. Unfortunately, we have all been brain-washed into believing that differentiation of instruction and working with small groups are among "best practices" used by effective teachers who are faced with teaching a diverse class or students. Just because one is comfortable and perhaps "successful" with small groups (or any other approach for that matter) doesn't necessarily mean that it is the most effective means of teaching students. in the face of being told of the merits of whole class instruction, teachers will invariably continue to differentiate and use small group instruction for many years to come - after all, bad habits are extremely difficult to overcome. What happened to our love affair with research-based findings?

What I got from the article is that direct instruction and inquiry-based instruction are both useful methods that are suitable at different times and that a good teacher doesn't ignore one for the preference of the other. I agree that there needs to be a balance and that small group instruction alone isn't the way to go. However, to suggest direct instruction is the only method of teaching that teachers should be focusing on is misguiding.

Today I found myself looking at articles concerning math groups. Now, I'm already doing some intervention math groups playing catch-up on kinder/first grade skills, but thought perhaps I should do the whole small groups in math instead of the whole group lesson I still provide. I can't find anything that works for me. Which is odd, because I'm a Daily 5 cultist in language arts. But even then I have a fair amount of whole group lessons. I honestly can't think of many principles that must be taught in small groups. Particularly in math.

One large reason I use small groups in math is because I co-teach with the special education teacher. We have all levels of students from gifted to learning disabled, and while they are all capable of learning the grade level content, they learn at different speeds and use different strategies. Grouping them allows us to put all the ones making similar mistakes together and correct the issue without forcing others to sit through the reteach. We are also able to push the higher students to solve more challenging problems or work on the related standard for the grade level above us. Could we teach math whole group? Sure, but with two teachers in the room small groups works fantastically!

I agree with your response, but don't think I stated that effective teachers should ever rely or focus on only one teaching method.

My apologies. That was how I interpreted this comment. I assumed you were suggesting teachers should stop small group instruction entirely. I'm glad to know I was mistaken.

You misunderstand. I mean our population makeup is completely different. The idea that you could compare the two countries is rediculous. Same for most other countries we are compared to.

My sincere apologies; you are absolutely right. We should never compare ourselves to any other country due to our uniqueness - after all, we have the best education system in the world. What was I thinking!

Of course we should look at some things other countries use and evaluate whether they are right for here, but you have to remember that correlation does not imply causation. China also has students attend school 10+ hours a day (no including the 6+ hours of after-school programs most children attend), only allows the best students to go past our equivalent of 8th grade, and allows teachers to beat students for incorrect answers. Pair this with a culture that respects and values education and educators, you have created a completely different society than is here. There's a lot more going on than China doesn't teach math in small groups.

My small group work did not replace the whole group teaching. I think I ran it similarly to what you have outlined - I met with small groups to play catch-up on skills, but I still taught the grade level curriculum to the whole group. I had an hour per day for math. So the first 20-25 minutes were spend in our rotations and I met with one group for guided practice. Then I did a whole group lesson, followed up with some practice time.

What is the diversity of the country like again? How many languages are spoken by your students? I could go on but I’m tired and dismissive at the moment.

The research is abundantly clear that differentiation can be a highly effective component of classroom instruction. There are countless articles using it effectively. Like any strategy, it's entirely possible to misuse it or mis-apply it. And I agree with your previous comments that the level of differentiation can be problematic and distracting in current classrooms. However, this issue is not really one with differentiation, but with the fact that kids are coming to school with such vastly different academic needs. Differentiation is not the cause of classroom chaos, it's simply a response to it. I've made the same challenge to others who argue against skill groups or differentiation: Show me just one article which explicitly demonstrates with experimental control that the use of differentiated instruction and/or skill groups as an isolated variable is ineffective. One difficulty with this challenge it that there really aren't a lot of articles out there on this topic. Generally, skill groups for example are not the target of educational research, but simply a component in it. As such, if we don't have research to suggest that the intervention component is, in isolation, effective or not, we need to go with what we have. Skill groups are part of many successful, evidence-based interventions, so - by default - they are "evidence-based" until someone can isolate that variable and prove that removing it would result in even more success of the intervention.