Math at the Teacher Table

I’m so excited to share with you all my favorite time of the day… Math at the Teacher Table! I’m not even kidding, it’s the best 15-20 minutes of my guided math because this is where I truly get to know my students as mathematicians! So today I’m going to tell you all about how we spend those 15-20 minutes together and how I plan differentiated activities for our time together!

FYI: While I meet with my small groups, my other students are completing different math stations and activities using a rotation I display in a pocket chart. The management of that is another post for another day. 🙂

When I’m setting up who I’m going to meet with, I start by looking at pre-assessment scores from my district’s assessments. Truth be told, I don’t always love the assessments from my district, so if needed, I make adjustments. Sometimes it will be a quick formative assessment ticket, and I’ll group students based on those results.

Quick, 5-minute exit slip that I used as a pre-assessment to form small groups

I try to place my students in groups of 5 or less. This year I’m lucky to only have 18 students (my lowest EVER), so it’s been easier for me to make smaller groups! Because we follow our mandated curriculum, Bridges, I do not meet with every student every day due to time constraints. However, I still always meet with at least one group of students per day.

When students meet me at teacher table, we rarely do worksheets. Depending on the needs of my given groups, I pull out games and centers that we work on together and differentiate through those activities. For example, when we were working on telling time to the 5 minutes, I had the same center cards for all of my groups; however, I differentiated them. The activity I chose called for students to read the clocks and put the clocks in order starting at a given time. For my lowest group, I pulled out the times to the quarter-hour and half-hour and only used those cards. For my middle group, we were able to complete the center the way it was intended with all of the cards to the 5 minutes. For my highest group, they put them in order as well, but we learned to talk about how much time had passed between each of the cards as we put them in order.

With the counting coins sticks below, each sticker represented a different level. Some students were simply identifying the coins and their values, some were counting dimes, nickels, and pennies, and some were counting sets of coins over $1.00! And a few students were even making change! Honestly, differentiation doesn’t have to mean have a million different activities planned. It’s all about carefully choosing activities and small group lessons that can be easily adapted for the needs of your students.

Counting Coins Differentiation: Each sticker represents a different level! 

Often times when students are at teacher table, we have manipulatives everywhere! You name it: dice, base 10 blocks, uni-fix cubes, hundreds charts, number lines… we’ve got it all! We spend so much time exploring and learning through the use of these resources. In 2nd grade our students have to learn to add and subtract within 1,000, and it’s big stuff! Some of my students want to move away from using blocks and models too soon, so I spend a lot of teacher table time working with students on using these resources to persevere and solve problems. The best time is when I see those same students working independently later in the day or in the week and they’re using the manipulatives we’ve worked with!

Remember, your time with students at the teacher table should be meaningful, engaging, and hands-on! It can seem daunting if you’re setting up small guided math groups for the first time, but I promise you it will be worth it! I truly feel like I know my kids as mathematicians better because of our teacher table time, and you can too!



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