Guided math is a way of structuring math instruction in a small group. I know what you are thinking... My kiddos don't learn well in a group setting! Don't worry! I thought the same thing at first, but this year has changed that thinking!! It takes a bit of adjusting, but it is so worth it! Do our students learn best in 1:1 settings? Yes.... BUT that doesn't mean we shouldn't work towards small group instruction. Here are some tips on making it work in the special ed. setting.
My kiddos are hands on learners. They need TONS of practice over and over and help generalizing across materials, settings and people. I use these math units because of all of the visual supports and hands on practice. Once we have finished using the materials during instruction, we move the materials to math centers and task boxes.
Once you have the materials you will be using, it is time to decide on your groupings. For my class, I like to do groups of 3. If your students don't have any experience with small group instruction, then you might want to start with a group of 2. I also have a para support the group because my students need that extra support and high level of feedback.
Right now, we are working on learning different subtraction strategies. We have been using these posters to introduce the strategies and then practice it as a group.
We then use the worksheets to practice together... going step by step. We read it aloud as a group. This helps me hear what the students are labeling the parts of the equation. For example, as we read out the first problem I noticed that one of my students was calling the minus sign McDonalds!! Guess what... that didn't make sense to him and either did subtraction! Once I corrected it and told him it was the "take away" symbol, he began understanding the concept of subtraction. Even though we are instructing in small groups, I still have the ability to give feedback right away to students.
Next, we do each problem together step by step.
Once we have finished the worksheet as a group, we go through and read the completed subtraction problems as a group. This step has helped my students with fluency of reading the problems and with remembering the math facts. To be truly functional in subtraction, students need to know subtraction facts quickly. Watch the video below to see how we do it.
The next step is to give students an opportunity to practice what we did on their own. We stay in the group and each student is given a new worksheet that follows the same format & told to complete it. This is a great time for the para and I to assess if the students understood the lesson and can apply it. This format is perfect because it allows us to give the students immediate feedback and support.
Our students easily fall in to routines and can be inflexible. It is imperative that our students have access to correction and 1:1 support if they aren't understanding, have something wrong or can't apply the lesson. Having 3 students and 2 staff during this time allows us the ability to do the correction and give a high level of feedback. For us, this is also the perfect ratio for helping students move from 1:1 instruction to small group instruction.