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How to Start Guided Math: The First Week

How to Start Guided Math: Launching Guided Math Part 1

Whether you’re diving into guided math during back-to-school time or starting mid-year, figuring out how to start guided during the first week is crucial to being successful.

Oftentimes it can be difficult to know where to begin and what to teach, I’ve put together a three-part series all about getting started with guided math!

Free planning sheets to start guided math with weekly and monthly planning sheets.
Grab these for free at the end of this blog post!

Because I don’t want to overwhelm you with information, I’ve broken this series down into three parts:

  • The First Week of Guided Math – that’s what you’re reading right now!
  • The First Month of Guided Math – read it here!
  • Guided Math: Releasing Control – read it here!

In this part one post, we’re going to focus on your goals for the first week, and I’m going to break down for you what your mini-lessons could look like during those first five days.

How to Start Guided Math: Goals for the First Week

During the first week of guided math, you should have one goal.

Yes, you read that correctly. ONE GOAL.

Your goal for the first week of guided math is to explicitly and effectively set up guided math expectations and procedures. You won’t be teaching your students how to add or subtract.

Your guided math lessons for the first week will be all about teaching:

  • What guided math looks like
  • How to use appropriate voice levels
  • Attention or quiet signals to listen for
  • How to work in partners or groups
  • What to do when they need help

Spend the entire first week of guided math focusing on your guided math classroom management. Set the stage for what math workshop looks like in your classroom.

The First Five Days of Guided Math Mini-Lessons

If you’re anything like me, I find it incredibly helpful to know exactly what to focus on during my first week of guided math mini-lessons. I’ll share with you a simple outline of your first five days, and you can also download a free copy to print and add to your lesson plans.

Guided Math: Day One Plans focused on What does a typical day of math look like in our classroom?

Day One: On the very first day, you will focus on teaching your students what math time looks like in your classroom. Generate a list that shows what types of activities students will be involved in: math centers, number talks, games, small groups, technology, etc.

You will use this mini-lesson to also teach students the attention/quiet signal to listen for during math workshop. How will you get their attention when everyone is engaged in different activities? What should students do when they hear this sound?

During your math center practice time, students will explore math manipulatives. Create 5 bins of math manipulatives that students will use on a regular basis (square tiles, base ten blocks, connecting cubes, pattern blocks, etc). Students will spend this time exploring and playing with the manipulatives and you can practice using your quiet signal to get their attention.

Guided Math: Day Two Plans focused on What does a mathematician look like?

Day Two: What does a mathematician look like? Go over the types of behaviors you should/should not see during math workshop.

Math center focusing on what mathematicians do and do not do.

This anchor chart sorting activity is perfect for this mini-lesson! Grab these anchor chart pieces in my free Guided Math Starter Kit available at the end of this post!

During math center practice time, students will explore with a different set of math manipulatives.

Guided Math: Day Three Plans focused on What is the teacher's job during guided math?

Day Three: What types of things will the teacher be doing during math workshop, and what will students be doing? Use this time to teach students the importance of small groups with the teacher and work time in rotations.

You will continue rotating math manipulatives for students during math center practice time.

Guided Math: Day Four Plans focused on What should I do if I need help or have a problem?

Day Four: What should students do if they need help? Brainstorm the problems that could arise, and work with students to create a plan to solve these potential problems.

This includes problems like needing to use the restroom, being stuck on a problem, not knowing what to do on a worksheet, etc.

After your mini-lesson, students will explore the next tub of math manipulatives.

Day Five Plans focused on What makes a good math partner?

Day Five: What makes a good math partner? How do you solve any problems that might arise (ex: winning, losing, taking turns, who goes first, sharing, etc). Play a simple math game, teacher vs. students, during your mini-lesson. Then, let students play with a partner to practice, too!

This will be your last day of exploring math manipulatives. Students will explore with the final tub.

Free Guided Math Starter Kit

I know it would make your life so much easier if you could download this first week of guided math plans, so I’ve got it for you! In my FREE Guided Math Starter Kit, download the lesson plans, planning templates, student data tracking, and more!

In case you missed it, make sure to check out all three parts of my guided math series!

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