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Small Group Instruction in Math: 3 Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Do you want to utilize small group instruction in math but feel unsure if it’s the best fit for your classroom? There are many ideas and opinions surrounding small group instruction, so let’s talk about 3 common myths teachers have.

Text reads, "Three Common Myths About Teaching in Small Groups" in Math

Small Group Instruction in Math Myth #1: It’s All Busy Work

Teachers often think that if they’re working with a small group, the rest of the class is doing busy work. That is absolutely not the case at all! It’s our job to choose meaningful independent practice work, partner games, and centers that reinforce critical skills students are learning.

If possible, choose centers that align directly to standards that you want your students to practice or review for reinforcement! I use these first-grade math centers and second-grade math centers that align directly to standards.

Image shows an example of a first grade math center teachers could use during small group instruction.
Here’s an example of a hands-on first-grade math center that aligns with standard 1.OA.4.

When teachers meet with small groups, the rest of the class engages in other meaningful work. Students need time to practice the skills they’re learning in a variety of ways, and that’s why things like math centers, partner activities, and math journal work are a valuable use of time!

Myth #2: You Need To Have A Lot of Groups

So many teachers think that in order to be successful, you need to have a lot of small groups. Don’t buy into that myth, especially if you’re a newer teacher! If you’re just getting your feet wet, start with only two groups! Students should always be able to move to different groups! When you’re ready to add a third group, you can easily do that!

Myth #3: You’re Writing New Lessons for Every Group

I promise you that it isn’t necessary to recreate all of your lessons for all of your groups. When I had three math small groups, I treated that time almost as if I were teaching my whole group lesson three times.

How does that work? Scaffold and modify your instruction appropriately for each small group. By doing this, you can easily, pull out manipulatives, modify numbers, move through the lesson faster or slower. Plus, you can make many of these changes on the fly!

Image shows simple ways to modify small group instruction in math. Use manipulatives, change numbers, and move faster our slower through the content.

Are you ready to learn more about getting your small groups up and running? Make sure you download the FREE Small Group Workbook! In this workbook, you’ll learn how to create a flexible schedule and set up your small groups for success!

Want More Help With Small Group Instruction in Math?

Check out this helpful post: 3 Steps You Can Take To Differentiate Instruction

You might also enjoy this post: 5 Benefits of Small Group Math Instruction

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