The longer I teach the more I believe that most everything is a fad.  Methods will fall in and out of popularity.  But, the methods that really work, and really help students?  They are here to stay, in one form or another.

I believe that math in small groups is one of those things that is here to stay.

I have done guided math for 6 years in the classroom with all different kinds of classes from gifted cluster  classes to special education inclusion classes. Each year it has looked slightly different, depending on the needs of my students.

This will post will be the first in a series about guided math and wrapping your head around guided math in YOUR classroom.  I have done it well…and not so well so I feel I am in a pretty good place to share my reflections.

So what is this whole guided math thing?

So other people may look at this differently, but this is how I see guided math.  Guided math can be a part of the workshop model as well, or not, or even a mixture of the two.
My biggest concern is that many people think they are doing “guided math,” when all they are really doing is pulling back students that are struggling and helping them. While I think this is important, I don’t feel it is guided math.  I personally feel like all students need direct, individualized instruction in small groups to best meet their needs. 
Basically, if you are just pulling your strugglers, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Every student deserves a year’s worth of your time, and a year’s worth of growth.
Off my soapbox now.  🙂
So, why should you do guided math?  Because it is a great way to get to know each of your students. And um, base ten blocks for 5 kids and not 20?  Sign me up!!
But it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops in Guide Math Land.  It actually is a bunch of work.  You gotta be organized.  Like REALLY organized.  You also have to be prepared to  accept that the curriculum map…may not happen exactly.  Remember it is not a guide, not a stone tablet. Well, at least in the schools I taught at.  I do realize that  may vary from school to school or district to district.
So, now that you have decided that guided math is the structure for your classroom, you have LOTS of things to think about.
How about these…
Overwhelmed yet? Yeah, I thought so.  It kinda can make your head explode when you think of all this PLUS all the regular back to school stuff!!
Let’s take this little by little.
  • What is important to you (calendar, number talks, interactive notebooks, centers, partner games, etc) and what time frame are you working with?  
  • How much whole group instruction do you want?  
  • Do you want a mini lesson daily?  Weekly?  Twice a week?  
  • How much time will you have for groups? Will you pull groups everyday?
  • What interruptions do you have to your math time?  Will you be pulled out of your math block for library check out, computer lab, a special?

Here is a a copy of the questions above if you want to use it for note taking and as a place to hold all your thoughts. Click on the picture to download.
I know.  That is a whole lot to think about.  How do you want it all to fit together?  What do you think you can manage?
This is a sample schedule.  I am working with a friend to organize her math block.  This is what we came up with.
Do you like the planning sheet above?  Here is a FREE copy of the planning sheet.  I created it for three groups or four groups, depending on your classroom needs. A sample is also included. Below are pictures of how the guided math block could possibly be organized. Click on the pictures to download.

I have also included a BLANK version you can use to plan with as well! Click on the pictures to download!
If you are looking for activities or students to complete during guided math, please make sure to check out my differentiated math centers, Print and Go! Centers, and Interactive Math Notebooks

And if you made it allll the way to the bottom of this post I have a FREEBIE for you!  This little gem comes from my Differentiated Math Centers for September! Click on the picture to download!

Looking for more guided math posts? Check these out?


Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!

   If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay TeachersPinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

Published by Mandy Gregory

Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website ( and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.

7 replies on “Getting Started with Guided Math {FREEBIES}”

  1. What a great post! I also started using guided math in the middle of last year. This post really helped me and I look forward to the others!
    First Grade is a Treat

  2. I am moving from first to second this year and so I am wrapping my head around a new way of doing everything, haha. I was wondering as I did not see it, but might have missed it. How long is your math block? I just was curious as I was looking at the templates and thinking how long you have for groups and such. Thanks and love the post.

  3. Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to lead us through guided math. This will be my first year trying it out with my students and your very detailed explanation will definitely help me out. I will try to buy your math unit at the next sale. It looks fabulous!

  4. Thank you for your honesty and your detail! I'm going to do my very best to use guided math this year and your post was an inspiration! If you have any tips or examples of your own to share I would love to hear more about getting the students to work productively in their groups. What do you do with your early finishers? Thanks again…love this post!

  5. Great post with so much helpful info. I started guided Math midway through last year too and am still working out some bugs, but overall was pretty thrilled at the progress. I'm looking forward to more of your posts on this subject.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Email Format