Focus on Five: Arrangements for Math Instruction

After coming back to in-person learning, trying to fit math in our schedule has been a challenge.  Time of day, staff availability and student needs are factors when creating a math schedule and arrangements.  This year, our math and science block is combined into one and sometimes I keep science lessons separate or I take advantage of small group time in order to help students complete science assignments and tasks. While students have different needs, teaching using a variety of arrangements (e.g. whole group, small group, independent work) can be beneficial for scheduling and student needs. Here are the different arrangements I am using in my classroom this year for math instruction…

1. Monday: Whole Group

On Mondays, we have outside drama teachers come in and teach students at the end of the day, so I need to make sure that I get math and a break in for my students before Drama Time. While whole group has the reputation of not meeting all the students’ needs, it does have its benefits.  One benefit is that students can have peer models within the classroom.  It can also help staff to observe how you as a teacher may differentiate a lesson or prompt specific students.   It also helps teach students how to help other students (e.g. they see how students use their devices, giving wait time). I have been using the Unique Learning System Math Curriculum as the anchor for our math institution this year. On Mondays, I introduce the weekly topic in an interactive lesson using the SmartBoard. Students seem to enjoy the interactive feature and remain engaged, even in the whole group learning arrangement.

2. Tuesday: To-Do List 

On Tuesdays, I have students complete their “Math To-Do List,” which is just a simple “first, then” schedule written in a list form. I wanted students to get used to this format because our upper grades cluster teacher uses to-do lists daily in her classroom. We don’t have enough staff on Tuesdays to run centers, so doing the Math To-Do List allows me to still pull students. I usually pull students individually on Tuesdays so I can work on instructional programs or more challenging math or science work so I can take advantage of being able to work with students one-on-one. I also like to do some sort of written assignment that was from Monday’s whole group lesson.  For more resources and information on instructional programs, check out Steps for Organizing Instructional Programs, Special Education Data Sheets, Fluency Mega Pack and Discrete Trial Goal Sheets and Data Forms.

3. Wednesdays: Small Group Rotations 

On Wednesdays, one of the specialty teachers is assigned to our classroom during part of the math block, so I have students do small group rotations. We have four stations: games, teacher time, computers and independent work. The specialty teacher is at the station with math games that I assign to groups based on their levels and needs. At teacher time, I either work on an assignment from the weekly theme we learned about during Monday’s whole group lesson or we do a science assignment from our science lesson on Tuesday. When working on their computers, students will do SplashLearn. At the independent work station, students complete their independent level of Math Leveled Daily Curriculum.

4. Thursdays: Whole Group

Thursday is another whole group lesson because we do Special Olympics practice as part of science and health at the end of the day, so I need to fit in a break and pack-up time before then. The whole group lesson will either be a repeat of Monday’s whole group lesson or a different lesson on the same topic. For example, if the topic is money and we did coin combinations on Monday, we might move on to identifying more between two amounts of coins. 

5. Friday: Small Group Rotations

Friday’s small group rotations look similar to Wednesday’s small group rotations because we again have another one of the specialty teachers assigned to our classroom at that time. Sometimes on Fridays, we may have a special game or activity at the math games station. One of the staff members in my classroom brought dreidels for everyone this year and we played the dreidel game. This was a great game for math concepts like half, all or  one-to-one-correspondence. 

I hope this gave you some ideas for math lessons and activities in your classroom. For more on teaching math, check out My Favorite Resources to Teach Math, Math Activities During Small Groups and Teacher Time Math Themes for Each Day of the Week. Stay healthy and safe!

Holly Bueb
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