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some things I’ll be doing in my classroom this month: bts edition

Welcome to the first edition of “some things I’m doing in my classroom this month”, a place where I’ll share five things I’ll be doing in my classroom each month as well as a resource that supports it!

So here’s what I’ll be doing during back to school season:

1. All the classroom set-up things:

Decorating, organizing, etc. and I’ll be using the Modern + Simple Decor Pack to help me!

2. Using classroom slides to plan and organize my day

Classroom slides are literally one of my favorite teaching tools! They help me plan my day, and maximize instructional time by creating a seamless flow to our day! Check out my Classroom Slides Bundle, and if you want to read more about Classroom Slides check out this blog post!

3. Getting to know my students

First of all, I’ll be using these All About Me slides. I love using the digital version so we can also go over Google Classroom and Google Slides during this time. I also love to do a few things at the beginning of each school year to get to know my students as mathematicians.

I’ll be using the Get To Know You activities in this Math Love Resource Pack, which includes a Math Autobiography, Math Survey, Math Strengths Sheet, and Math Identity Journal.

4. Building our Math-Focused Classroom Community

I’ll also be using the Math Love Resource Pack to launch some important values and norms that will help us lay the foundation for our Math-Focused Classroom Community.

Some of the lessons I do the first couple of week of school are: discuss what it means to be a mathematician, build our norm around positive self-talk and communication, and talk about productive struggle! Check out some of my favorite read-alouds that I love to read the first few weeks of school (contains affiliate links)!

5. Introducing my students to STEM role models

Introducing your students to role models in the STEM field is a great way to broaden your students definition of what it means to be a mathematician or scientist, and how these things are used in the world around them! I’ll be using my STEM Squad resource to help me, and reading some of my favorite read-alouds about STEM people!

I hope that was helpful and you heard about something that you’d like to try in your classroom this month! Make sure to check all of these resources out in my tpt store!

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Some Tips for Planning Math Small Groups

a few thoughts about math small groups

One of my biggest goals this year was making my small groups hassle-free, easier to prep, but also effective and meaningful for my students. I felt like I had so much to tackle, and a very small amount of time to do it. So, I wanted everything I did to have a big impact.

Since I started teaching 5th grade math these have been some of my thoughts regarding math small groups : “man this is hard, some of my student have so much unfinished learning, where do I even start?”, “what group should I put this student in?”, “I need to change what students are doing independently more often”, “I’m not doing enough.” Can you resonate with any of those thoughts?

So here are some things I’ve done this year to tackle some of these thoughts.

#1 most of my small group lessons are task-based 

This is the most authentic way I’ve found to address students’ unfinished learning and push them to new understandings. It allows me to see their entry point and meet them where they’re at in their math thinking. They feel safe to share and show their thinking in a small group setting, and this gives me so much insight. We’re able to address misconceptions in an authentic way and use concrete models to deepen our understanding. Added bonus: it makes my planning much easier and streamlined. I’m able to use one task for all of my groups, scaffold when needed, and see the magic happen from there.
Here are a few of my favorite places to pull tasks for my students: Illustrative Mathematics, Mine the Gap, and here!

#2 my groups are flexible and somewhat heterogeneous (most of the time)

This has been a game changer because now I don’t think so much about “what group should I put this student in/where do they fit?” This was a big shift because I was so used to grouping students homogeneously (hello, primary literacy teacher brain). I’ve found that heterogeneous groups work really well in math, and having the flexibility of switching up groups based on the day works well too! I’ve found that this helps a lot with students hearing different perspectives on problem solving and pushes students in the group to reflect and possibly revise their thinking based on what they’re hearing from their classmates. It puts a lot of the heavy lifting on the students and less on me, the teacher! Which is a win-win in my book.

Ps…are there days when my groups are more structured and planned? Of course! It all just depends on the day!

#3 make independent work easy to prep and consistent

Say it with me, independent work can be basic and still meaningful. Not only does this make prep much easier but your students get to know the drill and the focus is on the math. Now, this doesn’t mean students are doing the same exact thing every week, but they are doing a different version of the same activity.

Here are what my students work on independently throughout the week:

>Math app/website: There are so many great math websites and apps now. My school uses IXL and so that’s what I use in my math classroom, but I like to switch it up with Prodigy and 99math too.

>Weekly Number: My students complete a weekly number worksheet. The template is consistent but changes weekly to address standards we’ve learned. There’s also a self-checking component so students are able to see how they’ve done.

>Math Identity Journal Prompt: I’ve used this in my room for a couple of years now and I love it. Students complete a weekly prompt that addresses various aspects of their math identity. I read these responses and respond to them periodically. I use a digital version which makes it super simple to assign and check. If you’d like to check out this resource in my tpt store here it is!

a little bit on systems and organization…

One more note because you know your girl loves some organization. I’ve also made sure that I created a space that is conducive to what I’m doing in my small groups. I wanted a space that was functional and worked for my students and I, and I truly feel that I’ve created just that! Here are a few of my favorite things that I use to organize my space: this container is great for organizing my tasks, love having a little caddy with some frequently used supplies, and these little pouches are perfect for organizing all of my favorite math tools. Check out some more of my small group faves here!

Also, because I’ve really streamlined what I’m doing in both my small group lessons and independent work for students this makes planning and prep a lot easier. I’m able to batch plan which is so darn helpful! Check out my no-fuss planning template below!

Welp, I hope this gave you some things to think about in terms of making your math small groups a little more no-fuss, but also meaningful and rigorous for all students.

small group planning template

*please note: this post includes some affiliate links, which means I earn a small little commission if you follow those links and purchase something! So thanks in advance for showing your support, it truly means the world to me!