Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship with Small Group Math

To be clear- I LOVE the concept of small group math.  I really do feel it is the best practice for making sure you are reaching your students.  But I HATE wrestling with curriculum pacing.  Small group work takes time.  It is not a bulldoze though sort of method.  But then I'm supposed to complete this entire math text in a very specific amount of time, and have county assessments done on time for data review, and it's sort of impossible to do all that without bulldozing through it.  So, what to do?  Suggestions, anyone?

Mercifully, I have a really good group this year, so when I've had to teach whole group, I haven't had behavioral issues.  Aaaannnd, when I've taught small group, the behavior hasn't been too bad either.  Just a noise level issue we're working on.  But I've been combating that by giving them a partner and separating them around the room. 

We did create an i-chart for math workshop time- kid generated of course, and it has been helpful.  I made a copy of it for each kid to keep in their math notebook.

This is one of the first charts I made this year, so I hadn't transitioned into the eye and ear and heart model yet- but it hasn't seemed necessary to update it to that style at this point.  I probably will for next year though, to keep all my i-charts cohesive.

What I'm working on currently, and hope to share regularly on Thursdays, is my battle with small group and whole group math.  I've been playing around with how to do centers with math, and thus far not found a method that feels successful for myself or my students.  I'm also working on creating partner friendly math kits.  Crappy picture, I know, but I can't find a pic of exactly what I'm talking about, and I haven't snapped a pic yet at school.  But I found these small square plastic lidded containers in the kitchen section of the Dollar Tree.  They are perfect for holding dice for quiet shakers, but they also fit the right amount of bingo  chips, coins for money games, and other little manipulatives that my math series uses for games.  I'm trying to get everything a pair of students would need to play any math game in their space, to fit in a plastic shoe box.  To set up my whole class, I'd only need twelve shoe boxes (which I have) and it would only take up half of my crate storage- which I'm currently using one third of anyway.

I'd really love to figure out a way to Daily 5-erize my math time.  And I know there's different things out there.  But like I said, I just haven't found anything that works for me yet.  If anybody has found a solution, please do share.

1 comment:

  1. Are you guys still using Investigations or did you sneakily move to Connects?

    We're still doing Investigations and my solution to the time/small group/group work issue was to use the BUILD workshop model three days a week and reserve two days a week for whole-group and guided instruction.

    So I start off even the workshop days with the 30 minute lesson at the beginning of the Investigation session, and then I move into BUILD.

    Buddy Games are usually the games or one of the activities in the investigation for the week. Using Manipulatives is exactly what it sounds like. Independent Work & Reading usually involves some skill review or a snapshot of their understanding (plus reading so they get in some cross-curricular action). Learning about Numbers is always the story problem/counting money/spiraling component, and Doing Math is the "You Do" release of responsibility and generally involves the computer or a project.

    So far it's really worked, the kids love it, and I've been able to really work 1:1 and in small groups with ease.