One of the most frequently asked questions I get for math instruction is: *I have read your blog posts. But, how does it all fit together?* On this post, I will break down how I teach math in 5th grade (easily applicable to 4th grade) and what math instruction looks like on a weekly and daily basis.

Before diving in to what the days look like, I want to make it clear that I do not do guided math centers every day. With that being said, if you do, don’t think that I am telling you that what you are doing is wrong. For me and my students, we have always needed a few days of whole group instruction in addition to math center days.

We weed whole group instruction days to really dig into our content and introduce a lot of math skills that are new to 5th grade.

# Whole Group Math Instruction Days

We do whole group math about two times a week, typically on Mondays and Tuesdays. We start the lesson with a quick math review or number talk and then dive right into the lesson and the activities that follow the lesson. Here is a breakdown of what a whole group instruction day would look like.

## Whole Group Instruction Resources

Here are the go-to resources that I use for whole group instruction:

1.) Anchor charts that we create together (sometimes I recreate them and polish them up after a lesson)

2.) Word problems or some type of context to introduce the lesson

3.) Interactive math notebook templates for notes and practice

4.) Practice printables and teaching posters from my math supplement resource packs

## Whole Group Activities

We finish the lesson with a variety of different whole group activities, which may include:

- Independent practice
- Guided math manipulative practice
- Partner games —-> Grab some FREE ones here.
- Other math activities

Click here to read a detailed post about these whole group activities and see examples of each.

# Guided Math Workshop Days

We do guided math center days 2-3 times a week, typically on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Having them only half the time really helps keep the students from getting tired or disengaged. From the beginning of the year until the end of the year, I have students who literally cheer for math center time.

Here is a breakdown of a typical guided math workshop lesson:

- Math review or number talk (10 Minutes)
- Mini-lesson that is related to the content in math centers or to the content in my small group time (10-20 Minutes)
- Three rotations of math centers (60 Minutes)
- Closing (10 Minutes)

I have a wide variety of blog posts on math centers if you wanting to learn more. Click here to see all of my posts and articles related to guided math centers. Use the page numbers at the bottom to navigate through to find the topics that are of most interest to you.

## Guided Math Resources

I have a variety of resources that I pull from for my math centers and small group instruction. Click here to see free samples of all of the guided math center materials that I use on a regular basis.

## Example Week of Math Instruction

Now, let’s take a look at what a week would look like in my 5th grade classroom.

### Monday:

Introduce partial quotients division through a cupcake distribution problem. Practice several problems as a whole class and 1-2 problems independently. Circulate as the students are working and make note of progress. Grab free printables for this lesson here.

### Tuesday:

Review partial quotients with a field trip problem as a whole class. Assign a similar problem for the students to complete independently. Circulate as the students complete the problem. Review the problem and assign independent practice problems or partner math games, depending on mastery level. Pull groups (based on anecdotal notes) while the students are working independently or with partners.

### Wednesday:

**Guided Math Centers**

**Center**** 1**: Roll and Answer (Place Value Review)

**Center 2: **Teacher Time (Division)

**Center 3: **Computer Center (Self-Paced)

**Center 4: **Task Cards (Mixed Computation and Word Problems: Multiplication)

**Center 5: **Paper and Pencil (Error Analysis: Multiplication)

### Thursday:

**Guided Math Centers**

**Center**** 1: **Roll and Answer (Place Value Review)

**Center 2: **Teacher Time (Division)

**Center 3: **Computer Center (Self-Paced)

**Center 4: **Task Cards (Mixed Computation and Word Problems: Multiplication)

**Center 5: **Paper and Pencil (Error Analysis: Multiplication)

### Friday:

Complete an “around the room gallery walk” with division problems and complete a quick check assessment on division if the students are ready (based on observations during the gallery walk.)

**Things to Notice about the Example Lesson:**

- That example would be the first week of teaching division.
- None of the independent centers include division. That is intentional because they are still learning the skill, and my math centers include only review content. Multiplication would have been a skill that was recently taught, and place value would be a spiral skill that I am bringing back from earlier in the year. Math centers are the perfect way to spiral review your content.
- The second week of teaching division, we would incorporate more of a variety of whole group activities after our whole group lesson. For more ideas for whole group math activities, click here.

# Math Pacing

I do follow a pacing guide that I created based on years of teaching the same content. I try to stick to my pacing guide pretty closely, but I don’t feel tied down to it. My motto in regards to pacing is, “Go slow to speed up.” We go slow as needed to build conceptual understanding and fill any gaps that my students have. However, when I created the pacing guide, I built in time to review and reteach.

Speaking of reteaching, I typically take the time to reteach nearly all of the related 4th grade content quickly before moving on to grade level content. This allows me to see where my students are, to correct any misconceptions, and to build a conceptual foundation upon which we can then build.

Click here to download my 5th grade math pacing guide.

# Suggested Math Schedules for Less Time

The way I teach math works for me mainly because I have always had 90 minutes per day to teach math. If you have less time or want some other options for how to schedule your math block, click here.

**There you have it – a general overview of how I teach math in 5th grade. I hope this helps tie some of the information and tips I share together. If you have other questions, let me know in the comments.**

Krystal L. Smith says

November 4, 2017 at 12:39 amI really enjoyed reading this post, Jennifer! How you outlined your week makes perfect sense. During your first week of Division, I love how none of your independent groups do not work on it because of it being new. I love how spiraling is also incorporated into your centers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

A. Carter says

December 10, 2017 at 2:10 pmI really want to begin doing my math lesson like this. I am a first year teacher and a bit overwhelmed with everything. Could I begin doing math like this after the holidays? How would I get everything ready? I do not have a “math curriculum” in my district. I have used some of your stuff as well as a lot of TPT to supplement. HELP! :))

Erin Ireland says

December 31, 2017 at 12:36 pmWhat would suggest for those of us that have to teach from a program? My district uses Everday Math to support our curriculum. I’m not always sure how to fit in guided math/centers when using a program.

Katie says

January 11, 2018 at 2:03 pmFor your rotations, are you teaching in your guided groups a lesson based on your mini lesson or on other standards based on their level in math? Also are the stations about 6 minutes long? How do you go about this? I am sorry if you already have an area where you discussed this.

Christine says

June 16, 2018 at 12:29 pmThank you for this resource! I teach 4th grade and this will be the first year I’m only teaching math with 3 almost 80 minute blocks. I’m a bit anxious but would like to incorporate centers/small group along with whole group like you’ve done here. Question: If your rotations are 20 minutes each, are your centers besides your group timed, or like a menu of completion since there were 5 centers during the 2-3 days??? Thanks for any clarification. Centers/rotations with students doing spiral review and practice while I’m with a small group have always been a scary area for me.

Caitlyn R says

June 27, 2018 at 7:32 pmThis post and all of your sources are super helpful! I am going into my first year of teaching and this is exactly how my classroom schedule will be set up. Having the schedule you created was helpful and meets the expectations of my school! They want to do centers everyday and I had no idea how I was going to do that. This is so perfect! Thank you for being so awesome!

Lucas Ryvers says

February 9, 2019 at 6:52 pmI love your recognition of the need to blend instruction lessons and then group activity days. I think this will lead to a healthy balance of the best of both modern activity lesson methods and more traditional lecture-based lessons. Love this!

Catie S says

July 10, 2019 at 5:14 pmI love how you teach math and plan on implementing this guided math workshop approach. I have bought your 5th grade math center resource on tpt 🙂 I have a question in regards to the centers you choose. Are the center activities you choose always review from past skills? For example, if I am teaching place value, should my centers be place value activities, like some of the place value centers and games from the bundle? Or should they focus on other skills like multiplication facts and division facts, as they are review and may supplement the place value unit.

Thanks!

Jennifer Findley says

July 14, 2019 at 12:33 pmHi Catie, yes, my math centers are always review skills. They are a mixture of review from skills just learned (like last week or even earlier that week) and skills that we need to revisit from the beginning of the year. My small group instruction is typically always current math skills. I don’t like for my students to be independently practicing skills they are still learning and have not mastered.