Incorporating Guided Math Into My Classroom

Guided Math, by Laney Sammons, was the second professional resource that I added to my reading list for this summer. It was quite a quick read and I’m ready to share with you what I have taken from the book.  I’m not going to completely review the book and give away all of the good stuff inside, as I don’t believe that the author would appreciate that. However, I’ll share with you my three “take-aways” that I’ll hopefully be able to incorporate into my room this year.

1) Use more small group instruction for math.

This one is VERY important to me, but I’m already overwhelmed with how much work this is going to be. Of course, there are heaps of research supporting using small groups for instruction and I am looking forward to trying to modify my main teaching style, which is definitely heavier on the whole class instruction side. The book did a great job of explaining how different small groupings may work and I related a lot to the idea of feeling like I’m failing by not being able to challenge everyone at their level, neglecting those at the top and those just floating by, while trying to get the whole curriculum “covered”.  It’s overwhelming to think about how I may possibly get to everyone more effectively, because their levels vary so much. That being said, I know that I am ready to try to spend more time working in small groups with my students. I know that it’ll be a learning experience, because of the class management systems that must be in place to not be interrupted and so on – but I know it’ll be worth it!


2) Start the day with a Math activity.

Well, the last literacy book I read suggested starting the day off with independent reading! I can’t do both…or can I? I’ve decided to flip-flop independent reading and morning math activities. Three days of the cycle they’ll start the day with reading and the other three days, I’ll have a quick math activity for them to do. Actually, I’m QUITE excited about this! Every year, I get students who still struggle with basic facts (I teach grade 7). It’s hard to find time to practice math facts, since the expectation is that they have their facts by now. You  know what? They don’t. Some of them just haven’t gotten them yet – for whatever reason, and this makes learning the grade seven concepts more of a struggle. Providing morning math activities that target basic skills and problem solving two or three times a week, will be super-helpful and might just give students the boost that they need!


3) Give choice.

In Math? This one, really got me! I give lots of different options in Language Arts and Social Studies for projects, topics, book reports, posters – whenever I can. But Math? I have NOT been giving choice in Math. I’ve given projects, played math games and created stations. However, I have NOT said – you can complete this activity OR this activity. Why? Not really sure, to be honest. However, this totally fits in with my goal (from a previous post) of using Bloom’s taxonomy more effectively AND working menus into my classes. I’d like to try to use menus for math – giving choice to my students and building in differentiation. It can be done. I’m sure of it! Even though I’ll inevitably fall on my face, trying to get it all done – I’m excited to try!


Guided Math is a great resource – especially for elementary grades. I focused in on just three things, so as to not be totally overwhelmed by all of the ideas that it offered. I think that I’m going to start with the morning math activities and then the math menus. Finally, I’m going to try to do more small group instruction, but I think that this one is something that I’ll be working toward all year – and not just in math! I’d like to spend more time with small groups in the other subjects that I teach as well.


There was a book study on Guided Math this summer, that I’d mentioned in a past post. If this book sounds like something you may be interested in, you may want to check out some of the conversations and comments that teachers made with this book study. Here’s the original post for the Guided Math Book Study.



So, over to you: Those of you who are already using small group instruction or guided math effectively…. How are you doing it? Class management issues? How time intensive do you find it, preparing the different tasks for the different groups, versus one activity that you modify for the class? What tips for time management could you offer?

Please share your thoughts and questions!!!



Lessons from the middle, canadian teacher blog, middle school lessons

About krystalmills

I am a Grade 7 teacher in Prince Edward Island. Lessons From The Middle shares lessons from the classroom, and occasionally from my life as a mom of two young boys. The goal of this Canadian teacher blog is to share middle school lessons, activities and ideas from my classroom and to collaborate with the wonderful online community of teachers out there as well! Thanks for stopping by!   Find me on Facebook Twitter Pinterest Browse my TPT Store Browse my TN Store

Posted on July 24, 2012, in Differentiated instruction, General Teaching, Math, Middle School, Professional Development, Professional Reading, Reflecting About Teaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I am going to follow your blog on my fb page because I am interested to know how the guided math works out for you this year…even though I work with K-5 as a math facilitator/interventionist/coach, I might get some ideas for my fifth graders. I really want to know about how Daily 5 math works too so let me know if you know of any Daily 5 Math folks out there in blog land.

    • We’ll see! I’m going to work at it slowly, so that I’m not totally overwhelmed! And it doesn’t mean throwing whole class instruction away – not at all. It’s just using small group instruction more effectively, meeting with students to see how they’re doing and being able to pinpoint what they need to work on and helping them with that particular skill/process. Please let me know what insights you may have this year, as well!


  2. I attempted guided math last year, I taught 3rd grade, and I ran it pretty much like my literacy centers…. for a first attempt it wasn’t too bad .. I was laid off so when I get my own class I will definitely give it a go again and maybe just tweak things just a bit…. good luck the kiddos love the choices 🙂

  3. Hey Krystal,

    I’m like you, I loved the idea of guided math, but I needed to start small too. I’ve written about my adventures with math in the middle years (I taught a 5/6 combined) here:

    If you want to have a look at what I thought about my first year with it 🙂

  4. Catherine Gilmore

    I have used small guided math groups for the last two years. I have centers for those I’m not working with, and I allow any child to join a group if they are interested. I don’t mind if they want to gain more guided math time… however, they MUST participate in their group (at minimum). I have, in the last, at least one center, flash cards, and independent practice. I’m going to try really hard to have more center options this year. The last two years I didn’t use the internet, blogs or TPT… so now I have a huge increase in potential resources. It’s hard to come up with enough center material for two grade levels that differentiate and fill-in learning gaps. I don’t think this year will be as hard, (because of increased resources).

    I’ve always had the hardest time with scheduling time, following my time-table…. I believe this is the hardest part of Guided Math.

  5. Thanks so much for the comments and the support, ladies!