Thursday, March 26, 2015

Guided Math Rotations

First grade math builds on skills learned in kindergarten and these concepts are VERY important as building blocks for learning to come.  In first grade, the most important ideas that we review and learn are:  number and number word identification (0-100), addition, subtraction, place value (numbers to 100), time, money, geometry, and measurement.
This year marks our third year with a new curriculum, enVisions (Pearson).  We LOVE the interactive nature of this program as well as the technological components that we use with our SMARTboard.  One of the greatest differences with this program and what we’ve used in the past is the Guided Math component.   Think Guided Reading except with math concepts.  I use the "rotation" concept that we use in Guided Reading/Daily 5 so students are already familiar with my expectations. 

Here's a snapshot of Guided Math (my way):
1. Students are introduced to new topics each day with an interactive Smartboard "introduction" brought to us by enVisions.  Sometimes they're a little slow but they do well to introduce the concept and everyone then has a basic introduction to what we will be talking about.

2. Students are then placed in small (but fluid) groups according to their understanding of the content.   Small groups of students will complete the math packet for the day with the teacher's guidance or independently, depending on their level of understanding.  The above-grade-level group goes to Teacher Table first and, once they have the directions for each section of the packet, go back to their tables to complete it independently.   Before we switch, they are usually finished and the packet is graded and sent home (no grading papers at night for this girl!)  The other two groups (at-grade-level and below) come to the Teacher Table during 2nd and 3rd rotation and we complete the packet at various level of independence (depending on the skill).

3. While the small group is working with the teacher, other students on iPads at (fact fluency) and (standard-based practice) OR working at their desks reviewing previously taught skills through the use of Math Centers (games and Interactive Notebooks). I have especially enjoyed this addition to our classroom repertoire!  Before Guided Math, we studied concepts in isolation, went at the pace of the middle-of-the-road students, held the above-grade-levelers back, hoping the below-grade-levelers could keep up (that's honest, huh?)! :/ Now, we are constantly spiraling!  Believe me, it’s showing in our MAP assessment scores!

4. The Math Centers that I use are all from pinterest, teacher webpages, TpT, & my own personal stash of goodies!  I have three-ring binders with the main topics of study written on them and have been "collecting" ideas for 17 years! (Sidenote:  I don't use the games that are provided through enVisions simply because they are SUPER verbal and I don't have the time in my schedule each day to explain how to play the games and, for a good portion of the year, my students can't read the directions independently.  PLUS, when I was using them, my students weren't engaged in them AT ALL!  Probably lack of preparation on my part - but  . . . . .)  Anyway…

This is an example of a math center that focuses on sorting cards by the strategy that one would use to solve it (doubles, near doubles, fact families, related facts, etc.)  Students sort the cards then record two of the problems and solve them.

5. I try to use one center that involves the topic of current study.  All of the other activities are review of concepts previously taught!  On the first day of the topic, enVisions traditionally has a little Home Connection game that you teach and a short introduction to the topic.  This doesn't take much time at all so I use the extra time (no rotations on this day) to explain ALL of the centers for this topic and explain, if needed, any recording that needs to take place.  I try to line up enough activities (depending on the scope of the unit) for students to complete one center each day.  So, with some units there are 5 activities to complete and with others there are more!  

6. Accountability is VERY important to this process and, as I’ve previously stated, I REFUSE TO GRADE PAPERS AT HOME!  So, I have an aide during part of the time and we ALWAYS grade as we go.  Students complete a center and bring it to us to grade.  Feedback is immediate and students make corrections on the spot.  Otherwise, students will rush through everything just to get done with no regard for neatness or, more importantly, accuracy!  ALL of these activities are stored in baskets (pictures to come) and, if students don't complete the activity that day, it goes back in the basket to be picked up the next day and completed. 

I have this cute little punch card that I make for each topic.  Students keep it in their crayon box and I “punch” it when they complete the center.  It’s been a lifesaver for both their accountability and keeping track of where everyone is and what they have or haven’t done!

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