Math Investigations Part II

So today was Day 2 of my math investigations. As soon as we got into class, the kids ask, “When are we doing math?” They get so excited over working together and creating a poster to show their work.

Day 2
Teaching Point: Mathematicians will do a gallery walk to observe other students investigations and then make revisions to their own investigation.
Time: 75 minutes

Now it is time for the students to have their gallery walk. We put the posters on desks and the students get to walk around the room to look at the math posters. I try to put the same amount of posters on each table so that students can just switch tables once or twice. I have tired the gallery walk other ways but, it can get very chaotic. (You can put the posters where ever you want. If you have the wall space, hanging the posters up works really well.)

The students walk around the classroom with their partner, a pencil and post-its. I give the students as many post-its as posters they will view. So today my kids viewed 4 math posters so they were given 4 post-its.

Now comes the hard part. This takes a lot of practice! They discuss what they noticed, what they liked or what they didn’t understand. My students discuss the math on the poster and talk about glows (what they did well) and grows (what they need to work on.) The partnership has to come to an agreement on what they will write on the post-it. Each partnership can only place one post-it with comments on each math poster they discuss. Are the comments all great? No. But it’s a work in progress.
I have really noticed a difference in my kids math talk. They are using words like strategy!

Here is one of the comments that a partnership wrote:

As the kids are discussing the posters, I try to coach them on the type of comments and questions the students write on the post it.

Next the students go back to their investigation and read the comments left by their classmates. Kids will run up to you with comments they feel are wrong, but you have to do mini lessons on how to write comments and give good feedback.

After reading the comments, the students use a different color to revise their work. This will be MESSY!! But you can see a lot of learning going on.
Here are some of the revised math investigations
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Day 3 will be on Monday. This part is called the math congress and it is basically a big share. You choose about 3 posters that show something you want to highlight to the class. It could be a strategy used, organization, or how the poster was labeled. You highlight something that you want the rest of the class to pay attention to. Often times, I will choose a poster with a wrong answer and highlight the organization or the math vocabulary that was used. This way the students know that even though it’s important to get the right answer, other parts of problem solving are also important. This also gives the struggling students the chance to be highlighted.
The students come up and explain the part you thought was great.

If you want to see the rubric I use or the conference sheet I use, look back at Part I.

Have you done this in your class? Is this something you might like to try? Leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Math Investigations

Hi everyone,

I have 22 days of school left…YES 22! I am so jealous of everyone who is co close to their well deserved summer vacation.

At this time the kids are all starting to go a little crazy. Let’s not forget sitting in the classroom in almost 90 degree weather with no air conditioning! This is the time to do some great partner or group work.

I love math and so do my kids. I wasn’t always a math person. I used to be a reading/ writing person. I even have my Masters with a certification in reading. But somewhere along the way, things changed (Thanks Gael!)

One thing I love doing with my kids throughout the year is Math Exlemplars or as I call them, Math Investigations. Have you done this with your kids? The minute I say we are doing a math investigation, the cheers start. Math investigations work really well at the end of the year also. This is the time of the year when you really get to see the skills and concepts that your students have mastered.

Reflecting back, I should have chosen a more challenging problem for my class to solve. So next week I know to bump it up.

To start, you introduce a challenging word problem to the kids.
Emersion Work:
Time: 10-15 minutes (sometimes a bit more)
-Read the Math Investigation to the class
-Review problem
-What do we know from the problem?
-What do we want to know? What is it asking us to find?
-What do the following words mean…
-How does this problem relate to the math topics we have been leaning about the unit?
-Students try to solve the problem on their own for 10 minutes. (I usually give a little more time.)

Sometimes I am so surprised over the words the kids are unsure about. The words from today’s problem were poked and bulb.
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After the students solve the problem independently, you pair the kids up by like strategies. They don’t necessarily have to have the same answer, but they should have the same method or strategy.

Day 1:
Teaching Point: Mathematicians will solve a math investigation by discussing and working out strategies with a partner or group.
Time: 75 minutes (or however long you have. :))
-After the students are paired up by strategies, review the problem again.
-Students work out the problem together. This promotes the Mathematical Practices. It is great to walk around the room and hear the kids arguing over whose answer is right and why.
I give the partnership one piece of paper so they can work the problem out together.
I also give each partnership a rubric to refer to while working on the problem.
Once the students feel they are finished, they create a math poster showing how they solved the problem
-As the students are working, I walk around the room and ask guided questions: Why are you using this strategy? Does this make sense? What in this problem told you to…? and similar questions.

Here is the rubric (Thanks Lauren.)
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Here is the conference note sheet I use (Thanks again Lauren!.)
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Here are some of my kids’ posters. It’s amazing to see the different strategies.
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Come back tomorrow for Math Investigations Part II – A gallery walk and making revisions.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think. Have you done math investigations with your kiddos? Do you think this would be something you might try?

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Learn Like a Pirate: Chapter 3

3. Peer Collaboration

Hi everyone. Welcome back to chapter 3 of Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. Last week, we looked at common concerns about having a Student-Led Classroom. You can read about some of those concerns here.

Chapter 3 is Peer Collaboration.
According to Paul Solarz, we need to create a student-led classroom by making sure that the students understand that the classroom is a community. The students need to understand that we are a team and work together. Even if you do not try to establish or create a student-led classroom, I think it is very important for the class to understand and feel like one big community. I try to show the class that we are all one team. We should look out for each other in the classroom and outside of the classroom. After all, we spend more time together than with our own families.

It is easy to want to stay in control but we need to give up control and not micro-manage the classroom. One way to ensure that you create a community is by discussing expectations together. We need to provide immediate feedback and everyone should be encouraged to share their voice and opinion.

I know that I am guilty of not always giving immediate feedback to my students. I try to let everyone voice their ideas, but sometimes I have to stop the class because of time constraints. I know that starting in September, these are two areas that I really need to work on while establishing my student-led classroom.

Mr. Solarz gives up some strategies to use to make our lives easier.
The first strategy is “Give Me Five.”
* By shouting out “Give me five!”, the student becomes the center of attention and everyone, including the teacher stops to listen. It is extremely important to model how to use and when to use the phrase “Give me five.” Mr. Solarz also explains how there is a learning curve. I can just picture my second graders in September yelling out, “Give me Five!” every few minutes to get attention. I am sure that I will be a little frustrated in the beginning but after modeling (constantly) I am sure that my kiddos will be just fine. I just have to remember to give constant and immediate feedback to ensure the student understand why “Give me five” was used incorrectly.

Another way to establish a community is by putting responsibilities onto the students. Students need to realize that they have a role in the class and can help you out with everyday things done in the classroom. Have your students answer the phone, set up the laptops, put the homework on your class websight.

Students need to take an active role in the classroom. We need to teach students that the teacher will not be the center of the classroom. The students will come to understand that the teacher will not speak the whole time, but instead will walk around and facilitate. I do a lot of group work with my students. I pull a small group to work on a guided lesson but then I walk around the room and watch and listen. I try not to get involved in the work or arguments going on in the class. Instead, I listen and ask, “What do you think you should do?” or “How could you solve this problem?” I can not wait for my students to realize that they can do things in the classroom, like setting up a sign out sheet or a sign up sheet for read alouds.

How you set up your classroom is also very important. The room needs to be organized so that the students have space and can find material easily. The desks or tables should be organized to encourage talk and collaboration. There also needs to be an area for class meetings and space for students to work around the room. At least this is one area that I don’t have to worry about. My classroom is already set like this! 🙂

Another way to ensure that your class is a community and to have a student-led classroom is to let the students sit at different places in the room. Students should be able to choose other places in the classroom to sit while working. This is something that I did not do this year. In my old school, in previous years I would let the students choose where they wanted to sit during reading and writing. This year I really didn’t do this. I let the kids sit where they want during projects but I haven’t really given them the freedom to sit where ever they want at other times during the day. Again, its about giving up control!


I love the strategies given for dealing with student conflict. I would never had thought to have the students play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to resolve a conflict. I am definitely going to use this strategy in my class! Another way to help the students to resolve conflict is to use the conflict as a teaching moment. Again, I plan on doing this is my room next year. You can also teach the students to compromise with each other to help the students deal with conflict. I can not wait until my students are able to handle their own conflicts and help each other out!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. Come back next week and join us for chapter 4!


St. Patrick’s Day 3 Digit Addition Scoot Sale!

Hi everyone!I am super excited to be part of Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals and to bring you this fantastic dollar deal!

My kiddos always need practice with their 3 digit addition. I’m sure your kids can use the practice too!  What better way to practice their 3 digit addition with and without regrouping than to play addition scoot.

3-Digit Addition Scoot is a fast paced game that gets your students out of their seats and helps them to review their 3-digit addition with and without regrouping while having fun. Have students self check or peer check with the QR Codes!

2 different sets of cards are included! 
****The first set of cards has the QR Code on the addition card.
****The second set of cards has the QR Code on a separate card.
Choose the set of cards that works best for your class!

*This set has 36 addition cards with and without regrouping (tens and ones places.)
*36 cards with QR Codes for students to check their work.
*A recording sheet.
*An answer key

3-Digit Addition Scoot can be played in different ways:
Play as a whole class, in small groups, for independent practice, or put this game into a math center.


If you don’t want the QR code, click here to see the St. Patrick’s Day 3 Digit Addition Scoot without QR codes.

Common Core Standards:

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi.


Guided Math: Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Welcome back everyone! I am so excited that you have come back to join me for chapter 4 of Laney Sammon’s book, Guided Math. The more I read this book, the more I love it!

Chapter 4 is “Using Guided Math with the Whole Class.” In this chapter, Laney talks about the advantages of whole-class instruction.
We can use whole-group class instruction for the following reasons:
*Presenting mini lessons (according to my administration, this should take 2 or 3 minutes…ha ha ha!)
*Involving students in activating strategies.
*Read aloud Mathematics-related literature (LOVE IT!)
*Conducting a Math Huddle (or my math congress.)
*Providing practice and review (because we all know that every student gets it on their first attempt! 😉 )
*Formal testing or assessment

I know where I come from, whole-class instruction is a no-no. We all know that differentiated groups are important, but sometimes we ARE ALLOWED to work with the whole class.

Chapter 4a

Think back to your previous week of mathematics instruction in your classroom. How mucho of the instruction was whole class? Why did you choose that instructional method?

So, thinking back over the past week of my math instruction I would say that I usually have about 20 minutes each math lesson as whole class. We start out by solving a word problem together, then move into the mini-lesson. I do a mini-lesson almost everyday. During the mini-lesson, I begin with the connection, then teach or model the concept. Afterwards, the students try out the skill or concept and talk about it with a partner (or turn and talk as I like to say from my Teacher’s College trainig!) The students then go back to their seat while I walk around and assign small groups. After groups, we come back as a whole class and share. I have a 90 minute math block everyday, but sometimes it still doesn’t seem like enough time.

One day this week, I read the Math Curse. I so love that book! Not only do I love it, but so do the kids! I love reading math literature to my kiddos but I realized that I didn’t read half as many math related books as I did last year.

Chapter 4b

In which situations do you use whole-class instruction most frequently? How effective is it in those situations?

As stated above, I start off almost each lesson with a problem of the day and a mini-lesson. I think the mini-lesson is effective, especially the active engagement when the kids try the skill or concept and talk about it with their partners.

I also use activating strategies often. I think it is very important to activate prior knowledge in any subject. Laney Sammons mentions KWL charts as an activating strategy. However, in my school we are a Thinking Maps school and are not ALLOWED to use graphic organizers or KWL charts. To activate prior knowledge, I use Circle Maps. I put the topic inside the smallest circle. In the larger circle, students write what they know about that topic or concept. In the rectangle, or frame of the map, students write how they know about the topic.

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After we work on the concept or skill, students take a colored pencil and revise their circle maps. They add in the new information learned in a different color so we can see the new information learned and what information was prior knowledge. My kiddos love this part…anything to use colored pencils or sometimes markers.

I also love using games and music in my class. My kiddos love to watch videos, even during snack. You can check out some other videos by clicking here

We also play a lot of games. My kids especially love scoot games. They really enjoy getting up and moving around the room.

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I am definitely going to use anticipation guides next year with my class and word splashes. I can’t wait to add in this new material into my math class and I think my kiddos will really enjoy them.

In what situations do you use whole-class instruction the most? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Thanks for stopping by and saying say. I can’t wait to see you next week for chapter 5!


Don’t forget to enter this week’s giveaway and hop through to read what everyone else has to say about chapter 4.

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Guided Math Book study: Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Welcome back to our Guided Math by Laney Sammons book study. I’m glad you came back to join me for chapter 3.

Chapter 3a

How do my kiddos begin their day? Is there a math connection?
To be honest, I did math routines, or a calendar board for years with my class. We did activities around the number of day every morning, along with calendar activities. For some reason, I found it very difficult to complete the math routines this year. Between copying homework and getting ready for the day, I had such a hard time getting to my number of the day and calendar routines. I have the board and activities all set up but I never seemed to have the time.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to fit it all in? I’m all ears!!!

I have done a few morning stretches, but nothing consistent. I am making it my goal to use morning stretches EVERY morning next year! I mean it! I might need you to stop by and remind me or give me a nudge to keep me on track. Stop by and simply ask, “How are those morning stretches going?”

Since I am the queen of spreadsheets or checklists, I decided to make a checklist or planning sheets for the morning stretches. I think that might have been my problem this year. I didn’t plan well enough.
So here are the planning sheets. I created 3 different planning sheets because I’m not sure which one would work best for me in September and I figured that you could use some variety too.
Click the cover below to download the Guided Math Planning Sheets. Please leave me some feedback if you download the planning sheets. Thanks a bunch! 🙂
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Chapter 3b

Why is it important to help students recognize the links between math and their own lives?

Often times, students do not make the connection between math and their lives. It is important for the students to see this connection. Students need to realize that math is along them. Kids use math all day long without even realizing it.

What are you doing in your classroom to help students make this connection?
One way that I help students make this connection is by having the students figure out the amount of snack to give to each student. If a student brings in a box of cookies, the student needs to figure out how many cookies each child will receive. students also have the job of taking attendance each day to figure out how many students we have absent and present.

How can you make the link stronger?
I can make the connection stronger by introducing more math related jobs in the classroom. One way is to have the students graph data that is collected, such as attendance. Students can discuss how to display the data and choose the type of graph used. Students can also collect data about their test scores and goal and show the data in a graph.

I never thought of introducing math current events in the classroom as part of the morning routine, but I love it! This is something that I plan on including in my math next year.

What are some ways you try to make the connection between math and your students’ lives?

Thanks for stopping by and remember to hop through to read what others have to say about chapter 3. Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter!

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Worksheet Wednesday

TTT Summer Bloggin Week 02-29
Welcome back to Worksheet Wednesday, hosted by The Teaching Tribune. How great are all of the link ups that The Teaching Tribune has put together?
Today’s Worksheet Wednesday is all about math!

Today I am linking up my Frayer Diagram interactive Notebook page. I know we should only have one page, but there are two pages in this product. One is worded a little differently to use with younger kids. I created this freebie to go along with my book study on Guided Math by Laney Sammons. You can read about it here

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Thanks for stopping by and saying hi.

Now click below to go back to The Teaching Tribune to grab the other math worksheet freebies.
TTT Summer Bloggin Week 02-29

Guided Math: Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Hi everyone,

Welcome back to our Book Study on Guided Math by Laney Sammons. I’m glad you decided to come back for our discussion on Chapter 2.


What do you think is one of the most important Foundational Principles of Guided Math is?

I think one of the most important Foundational Principles of Guided Math is Modeling and think-alouds, combined with ample opportunities for guided and independent problem solving and purposeful conversations, create a learning environment in which students’ mathematical understanding grows.
I agree that it is very important for teachers to model and provide think-alouds during math. We model and provide think-alouds during reading and writing throughout the day.

But for some reason, many teachers do not bring the modeling and think-alouds into math. Often time, because of time teachers accept an answer and move on. It is so important for students to realize that there is not just one right way to solve a problem.

I use the phrases “So I was thinking…” or “Watch me as I…” all of the time during math. I sometimes cringe over how many times I actually say these phrases during the day. “So I was thinking, there might be a different way to solve this problem.” After solving a problem, I also might say, “Watch me as I solve this problem in a different way.” It’s funny how sometimes your kids become a mini you. I hear my kiddos say these phrases all the time in class and at home.

I love when the students realize that you can solve a problem using more than one approach. In the beginning of the year, many of my kids would argue with each other and tell each other they were wrong if a different approached was used. Now, at the end of the year the students are so excited when they have a different approach than another student.

Growing up I. HATED. MATH! I admit it. The teacher would stand up in front of the room and show us how to solve the problem. There was only one way to solve the problem, her way. If you did the math a different way, you were wrong. I remember going home and my dad explaining a math problem to me. I would get upset and argue with him that he was wrong, it wasn’t the way my teacher solved the problem.

Another Foundational Principle of Guided Math that I think is important is Learning at its best is a social process. I think it is extremely important that students get the opportunity to talk about math. Many students lack vocabulary. Not only do students have poor vocabulary skills in reading and writing, but also in mathematics. Students need to work in partners or in groups as they work on problems. Working and talking with others helps students to develop vocabulary and math language. Students learn to listen to each other’s ideas and see the different approaches their classmates take to solve a problem.

Here are 3 different approaches used to solve the same problem.

One way I promote math being a social process is by working on math investigations or exlemplars. See my post on math investigations part I and part II here Part I and Part II.
My kiddos absolutely love working together to solve a problem and creating a math poster. As you walk around and listen or coach in, it is amazing to hear the kids discuss how they solved the problem and which approach they would like to present to the class.

Here is a picture of my chart for kids to refer back to when working in partners or when completing a math investigation.

It did my heart proud when my Superintendent was observing my math lesson and my kids shared some of their approaches. One partnership said, “We used the standard algorithm to show regrouping.” Another partnership said “We used a different way! We drew quick pictures with base 10 blocks to show regrouping.” My superintendent was impressed to say the least.

The majority of my kids love math class. Everyday they ask, “When are we doing math?” Come on! We do math at basically the same time everyday, plus it is on the flow of the day. The next question my kids ask is, “Are we doing math groups?” Now the other students say, “You know the answer, YES!”

Chapter 2b

I do think that my students feel that they are members of a mathematical learning community. Students share their work by going up to the Smartboard or presenting work to the class. I try to make every student feel that they have something to contribute to math class, that everyone can learn the concept.

Students work in partners everyday at some point during math. They still have some independent work but often have to share their work with a partner later. As I walk around the class, there are days that I hear the kids arguing, but when I get closer to them I notice that the kids are arguing about math and who is correct and why. We work together to share ideas and then see which approach works better and why. I try to establish that no one has a better idea in math, but sometimes one approach or strategy works better than others.

Here is a freebie for you! Click below to download the Frayer Diagram Interactive Notebook page.
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Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. Do you think that your kiddos feel like they are part of a mathematical learning community?

Remember to hop on through to all of the other blogs today.
Don’t forget to come back next week when we discuss chapter 3 in Guided Math by Laney Sammons.

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$3, $2, $1 Math Sale

Hey everyone!

This weekend Saturday (May 31st) I am hosting a $3, $2, $1 Math Sale to help celebrate our first chapter of our book study. We are so excited to share our thoughts and ideas on the first chapter of Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction by Laney Sammons.


2nd grade GoMath Test Item Analysis for the entire year. ($13)
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April showers Bring May Flowers ($5)
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Haunted Multiplication Game and Task Cards

Monster Addition War


Build the Biggest Ice Cream Games ($2)
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Build the Biggest Ice Cream Cone: Addition

Build the Biggest Ice Cream Cone: Division

Build the Biggest Ice Cream Cone: Multiplication

Division Scoot: iPhones

Ghosts Multiplication/ Division Matchup

I currently have 11 math activities on sale! Click the sale sign to see all 10.

Check out the other bloggers who are having a sale to celebrate the Guided Math Book Study!

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Guided Math Book Study: Chapter 1

Chapter 1

I am really excited to be part of this Math Study Group on the book Guided Math, by Laney Sammons that Primary Gal has put together. I don’t know how Primary Gal does all of the things that she does!

I love math! Math is a touchy subject, you either love it or hate it. In my first few years of teaching, I was a literacy person. I even have my masters with a concentration in Reading. I was planning on becoming a reading teacher back then. Then things changed. Somewhere along the way, wait for it…I became a Math person. I can’t really put my finger on when it happened, it just did.

Chapter 1a

After reading Laney Sammons book, I started to feel good about my math time again. I recently moved to new school where they are just beginning to introduce math groups into their instruction.

So, I started to reflect on what aspects of my current math instruction are successful. I definitely have a classroom that is math-rich. There is my math wall, my anchor charts, and tons of manipulatives.

My kiddos have math journals, or as we call them yellow notebooks where they solve math problems, create math problems, complete activities, and write about math.

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According to Laney, whole group instruction is a great way to introduce a concept or to review mastered concepts. I start each lesson with a short teach, or whole group instruction. I have an 80 minute block for math so sometimes my teach part is a little longer than I plan on, especially when my kids are so excited and are talking.
My teach is usually about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the concept. This includes my teach part and an active engagement. Pardon me if I use some Teacher’s College from Lucy Calkins terms. That’s just how my brain works after using The Teacher’s College Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop for 10 years (boy do I miss it!!)

Then my kids break up into groups. I have 3 groups right now. There is my struggling group (pink or A), my on level group (green or B), and my more proficient or above level group (blue or C.)
Each group is given activities based on what I notice during the lesson.

Everyday I walk around with a checklist and I mark if the students answered the Quick Check questions correctly or incorrectly (We use GoMath.) Based on what I observe, the students move their clothespins to the group they are assigned to. Then my kids move into their groups. WARNING!! IT DOES GET NOISY!!!!!!

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I color coded the clothes pins just so they could find their names easily.

I float around the room, checking to see if the students are in the correct group and sometimes make adjustments.

Chapter 1b

Reflection time
Looking back at my math time, there are some aspects that I do not love. Sometimes you get caught up and run out of time. I am that teacher who is always rushing to pack up at the end of the day or the last class to get to the lunchroom.

I have a beautiful math board with the calendar and daily activities for the students to work on. There are posters for writing numbers in different ways, adding ones or tens, and other daily routine activities. Pay no attention to the word wall, it wasn’t set up yet when I took this picture. 🙂
SHAME ON ME! I almost never do them! It’s not that I don’t want to, I do. We started off really well in September. The kids were so excited about the math wall. But after about a month, I just couldn’t find the time. I tried doing it in the morning, after lunch, before packing up to go home but for some reason, it never seemed to work.

This is one area that I definitely need to work on for next year. According to Laney, the kids should be doing a daily warm up with math activities. I agree and really, really want to have my kids work on the daily routines. So my goal over the summer is to figure out a way to get it done.

Another area that I have been struggling with this year is pulling pre-planned guided math groups based on my data. I have tons of data. I start of each week with pre-planned groups based on the data from exit slips or from different assessments. I get to pull maybe one or two pre-planned groups. The rest of the time I seem to work with my struggling students. I often have to review the concept with my struggling students every day. It is because of this that I do not always get to meet with all of my groups. I have become content if I meet with my other groups twice a week.
Meeting with my on level and above level students more is another goal for next year.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. What are some aspects that are going well for you in your math class? What are some aspects that are not going well for you?

Don’t forget to come back next week to join us for our discussion on chapter 2 of Guided Math by Laney Sammons.
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What is going well for you in your math instruction? What aspects of your math instruction are you struggling with?


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