Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Math Rotations

Today was my first day FINALLY breaking out into small groups! I feel like I've been tortured with too much whole group! I am still teaching routines and procedures for literacy centers this week, but next week I start full force!!

My math rotations went awesome today! I was super impressed with how my students behaved.

I don't use math centers because that is A LOT of planning! Kudos to those of you that pull that off! I started these rotations last year and they worked really well. I stole this idea from Beth Newingham (click the link for a much better explanation from Beth and it includes pictures!) and it has really improved my test scores.

I divide my class into 3 groups. I give them a pre-test of the material on the first day of the unit to assess what they all ready know. I then level them by how well they did on the pre-test. So the groups are constantly changing. My three groups usually end up being a high group that aced the material and needs pure enrichment, a middle group that knows about half of the material and just needs some nudging, and a low group that may need me to go back to the beginning for certain concepts.

Each group goes through 3 rotations: work with me, independent practice and game. The game relates to the topic being taught and may use the SMART board, games from Lakeshore, or stuff I found online.

Now that I have my three groups, I will teach my mini lesson about the days topic. I will explain it enough that the high group will be able to do it on their own. After my mini lesson, the low group comes to me for direct instruction. This is where I may back up a few steps. I also go through the problems from their practice book or worksheet I'm using that day. While the low group is with me, the high group is doing their worksheet independently and my middle group is playing a game.

After 20 minutes I switch groups. The high group moves to games, the low group goes to independent practice (so they don't forget!) and the middle group comes to me. The middle group generally needs just a little instruction of going over the first few problems and then they are off on their own. Once again I switch groups for the last rotation. Low group ends on the skill building game, the middle group goes to finish their practice page and the high group comes to me. When the high group comes to me they are generally finished with their practice page. We grade it to make sure they are getting the concepts, then I lead them in an enrichment activity or worksheet. This is where they get to practice problem solving, or go deeper into the topic.

Everything went pretty well this morning, just a couple reminders about voice levels. There was a bit of confusion about how to play the games, which my assistant principal got to see (why does that always happen?).  I will definitely model the games better tomorrow!

Ok, I'm off to make chicken soup. I am all ready sick! Anyone else battling the back to school cold? Do you use rotations for math? What works well for you? What is difficult? Tips or tricks are much appreciated!


  1. I do a Daily 5 for math. We have Independent Practice, Partner Practice, Fun Facts, Problem of the Day, and Meet with Teacher. I have about a 13-15 minute rotation. I also ONLY teach the lesson in small groups. Be on the lookout... I'm in the process of putting together a post about my math rotations/centers.. with a freebie included!!!

    Ashley @ Fierce in Fourth

  2. Hi there.
    I also use math rotations but I always find myself spending too much time with my low group. Idk if it's that my low is really low, or i'm just not doing a good job teaching them but I always struggle with that group :(


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