Independent Math Activities for Guided Math - Simply Creative Teaching

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Independent Math Activities for Guided Math

During guided math, I have 3 rotations that my students complete each day. Today I’m going to share with you how my students complete independent math activities, which you might also call independent work or lesson work. Whatever you decide to call it, these are the independent math activities students practice when they leave teacher table.

This is a graphic for how to differentiate your guided math lesson work.

Not sure how to get started with guided math? Read all about getting started on this post!

How to run the independent math activities station

Right after teacher table, my students complete independent math activities at their seats. Each guided math group has their own independent work folder, and I keep the activities inside of it on the right.

This is a picture of three folders for independent math activities.
These folders are part of my Guided Math Rotation Organization Binder!

When students complete their independent math work, they return it to the same folder, but they put it on the left side. If for some reason they do not finish their independent math work, they put it back on the right side.

Differentiating Independent Math Activities

Differentiating independent work is something I feel is very important in my guided math block. Just like my different groups have their own folder, I fill each folder with different activities.

These are 4 addition worksheets for independent math activities.
You can find these differentiated addition activities here!

I like to keep the activities very similar. For example, you can see in some of the independent activities above how some of them are for adding two digit numbers, adding three digit numbers, or adding multiples of ten! Groups have similar independent work, but they’ve been given numbers they’re capable of practicing independently.

What do I do if students aren’t finished?

I get this question A LOT! What do I do if students don’t finish their independent work during the time allotted? Here’s the deal… I try very hard to not make this station busy work. Before choosing independent work, I try to look at what I’ve chosen with a critical eye and ask myself a few questions.

  • How many problems am I asking students to solve? If it’s a page full of tons of problems, it’s too much! Circle FIVE problems you want your students to complete, or better yet, let them choose the five they want to complete!
  • Does the page have any coloring, writing, cutting, or gluing involved that might extend this for longer than the time for stations? If so, maybe make this a TWO DAY work. My students always love coloring, so if we have a color by code for independent work, I have them solve the problems on the first day and then color on the 2nd day!
  • Is this work at the appropriate level for my students? I’ll be honest, I don’t always get it right. I’ve chosen work that’s been too hard before… IT HAPPENS. On those days (yes, it’s happened more than once), I talk about how I chose something that they weren’t ready for YET. And then I pull it to use at teacher table the next day!
These are 4 subtraction worksheets for independent math activities.
You can find these differentiated subtraction activities here!

If I have a student that has just wasted independent work time, I have them make it up at another time. Usually I have them do this the next day during morning tubs, which they hate missing! I’ve also had students make it up during free choice Friday time. This usually works! 🙂

What if students finish early?

Honestly, that’s my goal! Rotations last about 20 minutes, and if students finish independent work in 10 minutes, that’s a win in my book! (Obviously some students will take longer or work faster, but you know what I mean).

When my students finish, I have them practice math facts on the iPad. Since we’re one-to-one, that’s always been pretty easy to do. However, if you aren’t one-to-one with devices, here are a few things I always have prepped that my students can choose from:

Still need some help with guided math? These posts can help you:

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This is a graphic for how to differentiate your guided math lesson work.
This is a graphic for how to set up successful math independent activities.

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