Small groups are honestly the backbone of my math instruction. Small group math instruction allows me to really meet the needs of all of the learners in my classroom. Together with whole class instruction and math centers, small groups help me ensure my students master the standards and skills in deeper levels.
In this 4-part blog post series, I will share an in-depth look at what small groups in math look like in my classroom with resources and freebies to help make them work in your classroom.
1. Planning for Small Group Math Instruction – You are here!
2. Small Group Math Instruction Resources, Materials, and Activities <— Click to read.
3. Small Group Math Assessment and Data Tracking – <— Click to read.
4. Tips for Teaching Small Groups in Math – <— Click to read.
Forming Small Groups for Small Group Math Instruction
There are a few things to take into consideration when forming your small groups. The main factor to consider is how you will group your students: homogeneously or heterogeneously. How you group your students will determine a lot of factors with your small group instruction and the materials and resources you use.
No matter how you choose to form your small groups, you will want data to help make your decisions. Here are some ideas for getting that data on your students:
- Looking at state test results from the previous grade level
- Looking at the final grades on report cards (especially beneficial if the report cards are standards-based)
- Giving a quick pre-assessment over a variety of skills…click here to read more about this and download FREE pre-assessments for grades 3-5.
Planning Your Small Group Math Lessons
I keep my small group planning as simple (and as flexible) as possible. Here are the things I may teach in a small group lesson:
I keep my planning pretty simple, but I do like to do a variety of weekly, monthly, and yearly planning so I can really maximize the instruction time. Let’s take a look at some of the different forms I use.
Year-At-A-Glance Small Group Planning Form
For this form, I like to map out my entire year. The skills I put on this form are from my whole group instructions based on my math pacing guide. You can read more about my 5th grade math pacing guide and download it for free by clicking here.
Monthly Small Group Planning Form
For this form, I like to plan out the math skills and concepts I want to hit hard in small group math during the month. Of course, this is subject to change based on my students’ mastery and understanding, but having the guide is super helpful. I also record the new skills I am teaching that month in whole group and the review skills that I need to spiral back through small group or math centers.
Daily/Weekly Small Group Planning Forms
I use my daily/weekly small group forms to really drive my instruction. The skills I ultimately choose for my small group instruction depend on the following:
- Results from weekly assessments
- Results from exit slips
- Results from informal assessments during whole group instruction or previous small group instruction
Other Planning Forms
I also like to keep track of my standards that I have taught for each group. This helps me make sure I am spiraling the key standards as much as I can. Read more about how I spiral review in other ways and with other subjects by clicking here.
Most of the forms I have shared work better for planning small group math during guided math centers. However, I also pull small groups during whole group instruction days (remember that I only do guided math center instruction 2-3 times a week). For those groups, I pull based on skills. I use the form shown above or forms from my Exit Slip Analysis Binder, which you can read about by clicking here.
Math Centers Planning Forms
And finally, I like to plan out my math centers for each month. This form is super simple, and I usually just write the skill under each week that I want to target that week in math centers. My math center skills are always review skills or extensions of a whole group activity or small group activity that we have started together.
Where Can I Get These Small Group Math Instruction Forms?
Want to read more about math centers? Click on any of the links below to check out more helpful articles.