Set Up Guided Math Groups With 3 Insider Tips

No matter how many years you’ve been teaching, setting up your guided math groups can be quite the puzzle! Lucky for you, this is my favorite type of puzzle!

If you’re stressing about setting up guided math groups in your classroom, you’ll definitely want to catch these three tips!

Setting Up Guided Math Groups

#1. Have no more than 3-4 guided math groups

Remember that guided math groups typically have more students than guided reading groups, and that’s okay! Depending on your class size and the total time you have for guided math, try to stick with 3 to 4 groups.

If you’re not sure whether to make 3 or 4 guided math groups, head over to this post with sample guided math schedules.

#2. Use one-on-one assessments to create your initial groups

Oftentimes teachers use one-on-one reading assessments to make guided reading groups, but the same type of assessment isn’t done with guided math. I highly recommend taking 5-7 minutes to get to know your students as mathematicians. 

I wanted something quick yet informative to get to know my mathematicians at the beginning of the year, so I created these math assessment checklists to determine what skills my students retained from the previous grade. I have them for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!


The math snapshots are ideal for use at the beginning of the year.

To complete these, all you need is a ring of assessment cards, scrap paper or a small dry-erase board, and a few manipulatives. Students will solve the cards while you take notes on how they’ve solved the problems. This data will help you put together your guided math groups.

When you’re modifying guided math groups during the rest of the year, you can use the grade-level assessment checklists. Even if you can’t complete the entire checklist, choose what you’ll be working on first during small groups and focus on assessing that skill!

These checklists contain the current grade-level math skills and standards that we want them to have mastered by the end of the year. Students can keep track of their progress on these free K-3 math skills goal sheets!

Download the FREE GOAL SHEETS!

Help your students keep track of their progress on end of the year grade level math skills with these free math skills goal sheets for kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade!

#3. Set high expectations early

If there’s one thing you take very seriously, please take the time to fully set up classroom expectations before you begin meeting with guided math groups. Students need to know exactly where they should be, what they should be doing, and how to problem-solve issues that may arise during guided math.

If you’re not sure what kinds of lessons and expectations you should explicitly set, download the free Guided Math Starter Kit at the end of this post. Then, head over to this 3-part series to read all about launching guided math!

Download the FREE guided math starter kit!

It's so hard to keep track of small groups, unit plans, math centers, data, and more! This Guided Math Starter Kit will help you keep track of everything you need to be successful!

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