I have used a variation of Guided Math in the upper grades for 4 years now. Every year I see HUGE growth in my test scores and I know it is because of this.

I always find that I have such a huge divide in my classroom: kids who get it and could teach it, kids who could get it from some quality instruction, and kids that need some major intervention and cannot focus during whole group because of attention or just because they have such gaps. Doing small group instruction 2-3x a week has really helped me provide the kind of instruction that ALL of my students need.

## Guided Mini-Lesson:

I start each Guided Math lesson with a 15-20 minute mini-lesson. This mini-lesson is typically reviewing or extending the skill(s) the students will be working on that day during all or some of their centers. After the mini-lesson, I quickly go over the center requirements for the day. I am able to quickly go over the requirements because I keep my math centers very consistent. I want the focus of our guided math time to be the math they are doing and not learning a new game or center each week.

## Guided Math Centers:

### 1.) Teacher Time

For Teacher Time, the students come to my back table where I teach a very focused lesson on a new skill, reteach an old skill, or extend a skill. Here are some of the materials I use.

These Differentiated Skills Sheets allow me to focus on specific skills at different levels. I can work on the same skill with each of my groups but at their level. The best part about these sheet is that each level is 100% different from the previous and next level (three levels in all) so my lower group can progress through each level.

The Math Intervention Printables that I love using focus solely on word problems. The graphic organizer allows me to scaffold my groups. The printables are divided up by skill and I can work on that specific skill with my groups in a focused manner. Often, these printables find their way into my next guided math center, Paper and Pencil.

### 2.) Paper and Pencil Center

Just as the name of the center indicates, this center is all about putting that pencil to the paper and practicing math skills. I do try to make it more engaging than just regular worksheets by having my students complete “Mini Math Review Booklets” or one of my “Of the Day Printables”.

The mini-review booklets are a huge hit with my students. They love the novelty of them and I love how many skills they can review. Each page of the booklet focuses on a different skill and only has about 4-6 practice problems. This is the perfect amount to review without overdoing it. I can also use these math booklets to see who needs re-teaching on specific skills. The students bring their math booklets to the Teacher Time center as well. Sometimes I use the math booklets to complete individual math conferences with students during Teacher Time.

My “Of the Day” Printables are perfect for guided math centers (or math warm-ups) because of the consistent format of the printables. Since guided math centers are so short (20 minutes each), the focus of the students’ work time really needs to be on the math. The consistent format of these allow for that- and believe it or not, the students really enjoy completing these. The consistency provides a scaffold and confidence boost for struggling students.

### 3.) Game Center

This center is always one of my Roll and Answer Math Centers. The skill changes out weekly or even daily depending on the week. However, the directions are always the same. This allows the students to focus on the math involved and not learning a new game or trying to play a complicated game. To read moare about my roll and answer games click here. Because I have 3rd-5th grade games made, I can easily differentiate the games as needed. They are self checking, so the students are able to monitor their learning.

**Click here to go to a previous post where you can grab a copy of two free games to try out!**

### 4.) Task Card Center

This center is where the students work on the skill I taught at teacher time or a previously learned skill via Math Task Cards. The task cards are also self checking, so the students can check their answers and correct them as needed. I have bundled sets available for 4th grade (click here) and 5th grade (click here) so you can have a task card set for each standard that you teach. This will allow you to keep your task card center consistent throughout the year.

### 5.) Technology Center:

For our technology center, we do one of the following:

- Vmathlive (paid subscription from the school): The students work through math tasks I assign them and at their own pace.
- Xtramth: The students practice their math facts, again at their own pace.
- Ipad App: Splashmath (paid app): We have a few tablets also, so usually half of the students are at the desktop computers (we are not 1:1) and the others are on the tablets “playing” Splashmath, which they love!1.

### 6.) Wild Card Center

I do like to keep my centers very consistent but I like to add in a new engaging math center. I typically call this a wild card center but it could also be called Teacher Choice. For this math center, my students complete math centers that don’t fit into the other math center types above. These typically come from my Standards Based Math Center Bundle. These can be math puzzles, spinner centers, mad lib style word problems, etc.

## Random Guided Math Organization and Management:

Since I teach 5th grade, I don’t use any kind of board or workstation chart. Instead, I organize the centers in clockwise fashion around the room to make it super easy to transition. The students learned the rotation after just two days.

We only do rotations twice a week (sometimes three – but that is usually choice centers), the students rotate through the six math centers in those two days. They do three one day and three the next.

I *always* meet with my two lower groups first, with my lowest group being the very first one I meet with. That way I can provide them immediate instruction before they begin working independently. Also, I sometimes will start the paper and pencil center with them to get them started. And I will 90% of the time give them a differentiated 4th grade roll and answer game. Click here to read more tips about how I support my students with math centers.

## Other Helpful Guided Math Center Blog Posts

These posts are super helpful if you are just starting out and would like more detailed information. Just click on the title to be taken to the blog post:

Getting Started with Math Centers

How to Launch Guided Math Centers

FREE Math Center Starter Packs for Launching Guided Math Centers

Guided Math Procedures to Teach

Scheduling Your Math Block for Guided Math Centers

My Top Tip for Making Math Centers Work for Me

7 Ways to Support Students with Math Centers

Teaching Math with Small Groups

Higher Level Math Centers for Upper Elementary

I hope this gives you some useful information to help you plan your Guided Math Centers. Click on the images in this post to be taken to the products I mention in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Save

4321Teach says

Love guided math! How much time is your math block? I use 3 rotations due to time.

EmilyK

Jennifer Findley says

Emily, I have a 90 minute block. I have used three rotations in the past, but this year I have a larger class size and some with such huge gaps, so I have four groups.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer

Katie says

I want to try this! I have such a big divide in my classroom and since it is my 1st year in 6th I did not know what to do to help those who really get it be more challenged and those who need help get the time they need with me. This may be something I try after break….I am a little scared!

tobi :) says

Thanks for posting this…I have a large divide of skills and levels of mathematical knowledge in my classroom and this would really be helpful. My only fear is that what I do when one group is ready to move and I have groups who are still working on certain standards they need to be done with. How does that look in your room? Do you need to meet with your lower groups for longer periods of time each of the three days and your high flyers a shorter amount of time? That is what I do in reading groups and that works well, but I don't meet with each group each day! Help me 🙂 I would really like to do something like this and MAKE IT WORK!!

Jennifer Findley says

I do teach different standards to different groups as needed. I will re-teach skills to my lower groups and use a lot of higher order problem solving tasks with my higher groups. And yes, it does work out to where my lower groups get a longer amount of time each day (30 mins for the lower groups, and 15 mins for the higher groups).

Hope this helps!

Jennifer

*S.Udy* says

I see you have a 90 minute block, but how long do you run each of your groups?

Jennifer Findley says

I usually have my two lower groups for 30 minutes each and then my two higher groups for only 15 minutes each.

Jennifer

Nicole says

Are students given a certain amount of time to work through each center activity or do they just move on to the next center as they finish each center? I teach 4 classes and each class is about 75 minutes long. I am trying to figure out how to make this work for next year.

Thanks!

Jennifer Findley says

Hi Nicole, the students spend around 20 minutes at each center and they rotate at my signal. I don’t do centers every day. This post breaks it down with more information and explains what I do the other days when we are not doing centers. This may help you more. Thanks! https://jenniferfindley.com//2016/01/math-groups-two-ways-i-use-math-groups-in-my-classroom.html

Nicole says

That sounds like how I have done centers in the past. Last year was my first year in 5th grade and we did a few centers but not really rotations. I am looking to change things for next year back to doing center rotations. What do you usually do about those students who finish their centers very quickly? Do they have more challenging activities to work on until it is time to move on to the next center? Sorry for bombarding you with so many questions. 🙂

teacherjuliasroom.com says

This is something I want to definitely try (maybe next year though because of all that I have going my first year at this school). Do you ever teach a whole class lesson with this model? I am just trying to figure out planning wise, etc. Thanks! Julia

Jennifer Findley says

My whole group lessons go like this:

We sit at the carpet are for the first part:

1. Mini lesson to build background or review conceptual understanding that is needed.

2. Pose a problem to explore. Discuss and solve the problem whole group.

3. Solve similar problems whole group.

4. I send the students who are ready for independent work back to their seats and keep the strugglers at the carpet to work on more guided practice.

5. Close the lesson with an exit slip to check understanding.

Hope this helps!

teacherjuliasroom.com says

Yes! That helps a lot!! I am trying to get more comfortable with math. I've incorporated interactive notebooks, but I can tell that it's going to take a while before it is at the level of effectiveness that I want it to be. I need something else to structure my lessons with, I may just have to go ahead and try this after Christmas break. I'm actually going to check out you me TpT store to see what else you have for this! Hehe! Have a great weekend! Thanks for the tips 🙂

Darelyn says

Jennifer – thanks for you information. It sounds like your kiddos are successful and this model really works. We are really focusing on math and I need some fresh ideas. Can you map out what your week looks like so I can gage what I might be doing on a daily basis. Specifically: do you do a whole group lesson on one day? Are there centers on that day? You said you do 4 rotations each day, does that mean you have several things for the students to choose from since it seems they will hit each rotation a few times in the week? How are you grading/assessing? Thanks again!

Amanda Hallman says

Do you use math notes as well? I'm trying to figure out this piece of 5th grade math. Thanks for your help! ;). Amanda

KelC2KelJ says

Hello! Would you mind telling me the flow of your week? Do you do the mini-lesson and then stations, followed by a new concept?

Carol says

Love the idea, but it should be spelled “peek”. Peak is like the top of a mountain.

Jennifer Findley says

Carol, thank you so much for kindly letting me know about this error. I updated this image last month and in my haste made that ridiculous error. Thanks again!

Lindsay says

Hi Jennifer!

I’m new to teaching fourth grade this year, and I’ve found your blog and resources extremely helpful. Thank you! One thing that I’m still tweaking and struggling with is my visual for displaying the groups/centers/rotations for math centers. Have you found a way that works for you?

Thank you again for sharing your insights and knowledge!

Lindsay

Johanna says

Could you please give me a list of essential math manipulative you use in your centers so I can put them on my school order.

Jennifer Findley says

Sorry so late, Joanna, but here are the math manipulatives I use in 5th.

https://jenniferfindley.com//2016/06/math-manipulatives-5th-grade.html

Thanks!

Shauna says

Hey Jennifer,

Thanks so much for this post! I’m a second year fifth grade teacher. I used math centers very similar to yours almost exclusively during my first year and it was amazing! The kids loved math, I had 0 classroom management issues during center time, and our test scores were awesome. This year, I’m at a new school that requires all teachers to level their students into below, on, and above grade level groups. We then switch around our students into homogenous math classes. I teach the below-level kiddos. We tried math centers for a few math concepts and it was a disaster. Many of the kids were off-task or totally lost; I ended up stopping centers for the entire class. I’ve been SERIOUSLY missing math centers, and I can tell my students are bored with our math lesson format (review homework/exit ticket from yesterday, mini-lesson, interactive notes/guided practice, independent practice, exit ticket). Do you have any suggestions for making math centers work in a below-level class? I’m struggling to find my footing with math centers in this environment. I KNOW they would benefit from centers, but I’m not sure what adjustments to make!

Thank you so much for your all your posts and resources for math centers 🙂

Jill says

Please let me know if she responded to your post and possibly forward? I am in the same situation as you will below grade level students. Tips to make workshop work would be fantastic! Thanks…

Jennifer Findley says

Hi Jill, About 60-75% of my students are typically below grade level at the start of the year. Check out this post for how to support them in centers:

https://jenniferfindley.com//2016/02/7-ways-support-students-math-centers.html

If you still have questions, feel free to email me directly at jennifer@teachingtoinspire.com

Thanks!

Dinh says

I would love to try the rotations. Do you have any problems with noise level especially the games?

Jennifer Findley says

Hi Dinh, I don’t at all but we do have discussions about noise level and keeping it at an acceptable level.

Brandon says

Thank you so much! This gives me a much clearer picture on how I need to implement my centers! I’ve always wanted to do this but wasn’t quite sure how to implement the skill!

Brooke Sitterly says

Do you still have these in your TPT store? I would love to look at them and purchase some but when I click on a link they do not show up.

Please let me know!!!

Jennifer Findley says

Hi Brooke, I checked all the links and they appear to be working on my end. Which resource are you specifically asking about? I can help you better that way. Thanks!

Brooke Sitterly says

It could very well be on my end and my java or adobe not allowing the pictures to show up. I am interested in looking at all of them actually. I am currently teaching 5th grade, but may be moving to 4th next year. I just wanted to see what they looked like to see if they would be a good fit for my class.

if I have to choose

* mini math review books

skill sheets

intervention printables

of the day printables

Jennifer Findley says

Hopefully these links will work for you:

Mini Review Books: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jennifer-Findley/Category/Review-Books

Skill Sheets (I only have 5th now but here is the link to the bundle): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/5th-Grade-Math-Differentiated-Skill-Sheets-Common-Core-Aligned-1768083

intervention Printables (4th Grade Bundle): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/4th-Grade-Word-Problems-1727047

Of the Day Printables: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jennifer-Findley/Category/-__-of-the-Day-Resources

Hopefully, those will work. Let me know if you have questions about any of them!

Lisa says

Hi there!

You have some fantastic ideas! I was wondering if you would have any advice for setting up guided math in my situation – I teach Grade 3,4,5 & 6 in the one classroom simultaneously (we’re in a small country town in Australia, only 22 kids!). I have an 85 minute math block. Do you think you’d implement it the same? I hope to hear from you soon 🙂

Lisa

Jennifer Findley says

I actually think guided math would be perfect for your situation. Do you have enough of the same ability level students to make 4 or 5 groups? Check out this post with lots of ideas for getting started with math centers:

https://jenniferfindley.com//2015/11/getting-started-with-math-centers.html

Let me know what questions you have after checking out the post above! I think it will help you get started!

Allyson says

I have been doing a lot of research on implementing a math workshop model, and I’m really excited about trying it! I’m struggling, though, on how to organize it when I have only an hour for math, and I teach Everyday Math. Is there any hope for actually implementing it well, or should I just give up?

Thanks so much!

Allyson

Jennifer Findley says

Hi Allyson, I actually started Guided Math while using Everyday Math. I used this format for two years with the program. Here is how I did it:

I looked at the lessons for the week (we had strict pacing from our county) and I scheduled the meaty lessons for whole group days. Then the other lessons were workshop days. I only typically did centers 2 times a week. This post is a great break down of what I did each day and how I made it work.

https://jenniferfindley.com//2016/01/math-groups-two-ways-i-use-math-groups-in-my-classroom.html

That above blog post is full of information and lots of details. Let me know what questions you have after reading it. Thanks!

Jeanne says

I love your site. I may be confusing yours with another – but did you have a part that talked about how you rolled out the first 2 weeks of your centers?

Morgan says

You have a lot of awesome resources! Any chance you will be making some for 3rd grade? 🙂

Tanya Young says

I have struggled with mini-lesson concepts. I have tones of centers and am able to hold center rotations but I can not seem to help a small group in 20 minutes or hold whole group mini lessons. I usually end up taking 40 to 45 minutes. Its a struggle.

Catie L. says

I would love to look at your resources, but your links don’t connect to anything on you TPT store. Are they gone?

Catie L. says

I would love to look at your resources, but your links don’t connect to anything on your TPT store. Are they gone?

Debbie ogden says

Love these work stations. Question though. How do you incorporate vocabulary and fluency? My students lack understanding of vocabulary at a 5th grade level. Also, they are weak in fluency. I wanted to somehow incorporate both in a workstation, but I have very little time.

Jennifer Findley says

Hi Debbie, vocabulary is embedded in the stations. I might add in a few questions specifically for vocabulary in a center if my students need it. For fluency, it varies from class to class. One year, 95% of my students lacked basic multiplication facts, so I actually had to devote 15 minutes of my math class to this. We went to the computer lab Mon-Thurs and did Extra Math. I assessed them weekly based a their pace, to hold them accountable. I also taught them strategies to finding the answer to a multiplication problem if they didn’t know it for a 5th grade level problem.

What is not included in this post is that I also added a technology center with desktops and ipads. When I have only clusters of students who do not have math fact fluency, they work on it at the technology center.

Thanks for your question!

Kelsey Pack says

Do you have a planning template you use to help you organize? I’m 4th, but definitely wanting to adapt your ideas to fit my kids! We have extremely fast pacing (units are 1-3 weeks) and I’ll be one of the inclusion teachers for our grade level. I’ll have a resource teacher come in every day, so I’m hoping that will help!

Victoria says

Hello!

How do you “Of the Day” problems work? What do you do if a student finishes the first problem and wants to move on to the rest of the problems?

Katy Hardee says

Hey Jennifer! I currently teach 5th grade math using the guided math center model. I have 1 or two days that are whole group instruction like you do. I’m interested to know what you have your students work on during the independent practice portion of the lesson while you are pulling on the spot groups. This seems to be the hardest thing for me to pull together each week. Thanks so much for all of your help!

Kelly says

I love this idea and would like to incorporate the centers into my 5th grade classroom. However, since our 5th grade is departmentalized I only have about 55 minutes with each class.

How can I modify the day to make it work for that time frame?