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How to love teaching Math
How to LOVE teaching Math — making the most out of your Math block
27 Jul, 2014. 10 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Back to School, First Grade, First Grade Math, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Math, Math. Posted By: Kristen Smith

How to love teaching MathA few years ago, I did not love teaching Math. Math seemed hard to teach. I couldn’t figure it out. I felt like I was constantly running around the room helping students and I knew in my heart that I was not doing the best job at it.

Then, I changed how I taught math. Instead of teaching Math whole group, I changed the structure of my entire math block and all of a sudden, teaching math got easier. It flowed. It was actually FUN!

I changed my math block to be composed of five elements:

1. Guided Math- this is where I DAILY meet with small groups of students

2. Math Bins- this is where my students practice their math skills in a hands-on way

3. Independent Math Practice- this is comprised of curriculum math pages and using an interactive math notebook

4. Calendar Time

5. Whole Group Lessons/Guided Practice

It seems like a lot, but I promise you, once you get into your groove it is a breeze!

Here’s what my schedule looks like this year:

kindergarten daily schedule

You can see, my “math block” is actually spread out throughout my day. I like this because then my students are thinking about math all day.

In the morning, we have our calendar time and morning meeting. These are two things that I LOVE to do. I know that many teachers are starting to get away from teaching calendar but I strongly encourage you to keep it in your daily schedule. During calendar my students are learning MUCH more than just the days of the week. I will blog all about both of these soon.

After lunch is when we really get into “focused math practice.” I start the lesson whole group on the carpet. During this time, I will introduce a new concept or review an old concept and we will practice the skill together. In order to make the most out of this very brief amount of time, I keep some of my manipulatives in baggies.

 math manipulatives.jpg

I pre-group all of them so that there are the same number of counters, bears, or cubes in each baggie. Then, it is very quick and easy to pass out the supplies. When we pass the tub around the circle we chant this to the tune ‘if you’re happy and you know it.’

Take a baggie out and pass it down (clap, clap)

Take a baggie out and pass it down (clap, clap)

Take a baggie out, and put in your lap, take a baggie out and pass it down.

After the supplies are passed out, my students can then practice the lesson.

rp_labels.254.jpg

After a short lesson, we will then transition to our Guided Math/Interactive Notebook/Math Bin time of the day. (MY FAVORITE PART!!)

During this hour, my students are SO engrossed in math. They are working with me, independently in their math notebooks, or with a partner at their math bins.

This year I will have between 20-25 students. To manage this, I will break my class down accordingly:

*6 Groups of two at math bins. I only allow 2 students to work at each bin. (12 students)

IMG_7345

6 students in a small group with me

guided math

The rest of my students will be completing their interactive notebooks/ curriculum pages.

2014 BTS pictures.017

Math Bins

During Math Bins, my students will complete ONE math bin per day. I choose the bin and the partners. I manage this using a pocket chart. At the beginning of the school year, my students WILL go to math bins. In fact, I begin introducing it day one. During our first whole group lesson, I will introduce the “on/off” math bin. For this, each student will get a picture and a FIVE tower of unifix cubes. {the picture shows ten because that is what the center will have them do}

math bin for the first week of school- on/off

As a group I will demonstrate how to take apart the tower and how to put it back together. We will do this twice. After they can do this, we will once again take the tower apart and I will show them how to release the cubes over the top of their picture.

math bin for the first week of school- on/off

I will then have my students make a tower of cubes that landed ON their picture and a tower that landed OFF their pictures.

math bin for the first week of school- on/off

I will then have them clean up and give them a brain break. During the first week of school we will play a new game each day on the rug. My students will practice these games from my “Back To School” center pack. I am sure they will love them. We will also play these games in our small groups during the second week of school. During the first two weeks of school, my math bins are VERY simple. They involve exploring manipulatives. Therefore the first two weeks of school my math bins will be:

1. Teddy Bear Counters- Hunt the Room (I will put a different number of teddy bear counters in baggies all over my room. My students will go from baggie to baggie counting the number of bears.)

2. Building Towers with Unifix Cubes (roll a dice, build a tower)

3. Making pictures with tanagrams

4. Sensory Table- color sort

5. Patterns with Blocks

6. iPads

    pictures for my blog.158 pictures for my blog.161 pictures for my blog.163 pictures for my blog.168

As the year progresses, the centers will get harder but the routines will stay the same. Therefore, I make sure I teach these standards explicitly the first month of school. I want my students to be independent at math centers and therefore give them ample time this first month to really LEARN what is expected of them when they are at Math Bins!

Interactive Notebooks

When my students are completing their interactive notebooks, they are practicing skills independently. My first two months of interactive notebooks focus on having students master simple number concepts and color words. Again, the first few weeks are all about procedure. When I introduce interactive notebooks, we do them together. The very first page teaches my students where to put the directions and has them practice cutting and gluing two simple shapes: a rectangle and a square. (Straight lines and easy gluing!)

kindergarten interactive math notebook

Day two my students will practice the same skill however this time they are cutting out two objects and reading a new color word.

kindergarten interactive math notebook

After  a few days of this, my students are ready to practice a new skills.

kindergarten interactive math notebook

kindergarten interactive math notebook

In my classroom, I store my interactive notebooks in a milk crate that is topped with a seat. My students know where they are and can get them out and put them away easily! All the supplies that they need to complete the assignments are in their table supplies. In just two weeks, they are able to complete these pages and activities with little guidance.

IMG_0085

I “grade” (put stickers on) the notebooks once a week. I have my students place them on my Guided Reading table in a pile and flip through their week of work. This is a great time to assess how your students are doing.

If a student does not finish their interactive notebook page, they have to finish it during their math bin rotation. As soon as they finish it, they can go to their math bin. Last year it normally only took about an extra five minutes for those few students to finish their page for the day.

Guided Math

Guided Math Groups

During Guided Math, I am able to meet with ALL of my groups each day. How? I allot one hour to this time every day. I have 4 groups of students to meet with and spend 13 minutes with each group. This allows my students 12 minutes at two centers each day, and 13 minutes to work on their interactive notebook/curriculum pages.

How do you plan for your groups? 

Honestly, during this small group time, I use my math bins to help my students learn the skills that they need to focus on. Not every group will be working on the same skills!! I love that this allows me to meet with my students EXACTLY where they are. To keep track of my groups/games, I use THIS:

Guided Math Lesson Template

This is what it might look like for a week:

Guided Math Lesson Template

{{click here to get this document for free}}

During those groups, my students would play these games with me:

    IMG_7930 IMG_8802 IMG_8848 IMG_8864 IMG_8907  IMG_8916 IMG_8920

They love, love, love playing games with me and I love that I’m able to really help them with the skills that they really need support with.

Changing my math block to look like this really changed how I thought about math in my classroom. Now, math is one of my favorite parts of the day. To help you, I bundled my year of math bins. These math bins progressively get harder each month and are differentiated. You will find something for ALL the learners in your classroom. Not to mention, each month has at least 18 centers in the pack. You and your students will LOVE it and it will make setting your math block up like this a breeze!

You can get those here:

A Year Of Math BinsOr you can purchase them individually.

I also sell my interactive notebooks! The first pack is available here:

interactive math journal august

And just a reminder, my ENTIRE STORE is ON SALE today and tomorrow! :)

TPT SALE

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10 Comments
  1. LYndsey kuster -

    This is absolutely amazing!

  2. Jan -

    Your website is godsend! You have a ton of activities that I may incorporate in my homeschool adventure. LOVE IT!
    Quick question for you… in the photo with the two girls using the number line, I noticed the Daily Five posters. Are those for sale in your store? I have a ton of your product in my TPT cart ready to be purchased but I can’t find those Daily Five.

    Please advice.

    Thank you for your time.
    Jan

  3. Kristin Vandro -

    I really like math centers. Is this based on the sisters Daily 3 for math? Also, on the schedule, are the kids on the carpet from 8:30-9:35 or do they leave for Bible and prayer? How do you keep them on the carpet that long? I have a long block with ELD and then math right after and it can be challenging at times.
    :)
    Kristin

  4. Where did you get the math bins shelf? I love it. Thanks for all the great information!

  5. Hi….I LOVE your interactive notebook ….Are the “I can statements” and activities available? Where are they from?
    Thanks so much!
    Lauri

    • They are available in my TpT store! :) (kindergarten interactive notebook)

  6. I get your emails and then go to a day in First Grade blog, but get confused about whether your products are for First Grade(which I teach) or Kindergarten. EX: A year of Math Bins

    • Debby, I am currently teaching kindergarten. All of my products (in my store) are labeled first or kindergarten. If you ever have a question, email me at caseybean4@gmail.com– I’m happy to help. I will say that most of my newest products are for kindergarten as that is what I am teaching now! :) I hope that helps!

  7. Hi Kristen,

    I am so excited to find your blog. I am a seasoned teacher but It is my first year in kindergarten (I have taught grades 3-6). I love it and am incorporating Reggio ideas as well as international themes (IB) in my teaching. My question right now is about whole group math to start the lesson. Does the whole group lesson match the guided math group lesson? How do these relate? I love the guided math lessons but wonder what the lead up group lesson flows like. Thanks!!

10 Comments

  • LYndsey kuster -

    This is absolutely amazing!

  • Jan -

    Your website is godsend! You have a ton of activities that I may incorporate in my homeschool adventure. LOVE IT!
    Quick question for you… in the photo with the two girls using the number line, I noticed the Daily Five posters. Are those for sale in your store? I have a ton of your product in my TPT cart ready to be purchased but I can’t find those Daily Five.

    Please advice.

    Thank you for your time.
    Jan

  • Kristin Vandro -

    I really like math centers. Is this based on the sisters Daily 3 for math? Also, on the schedule, are the kids on the carpet from 8:30-9:35 or do they leave for Bible and prayer? How do you keep them on the carpet that long? I have a long block with ELD and then math right after and it can be challenging at times.
    :)
    Kristin

  • Where did you get the math bins shelf? I love it. Thanks for all the great information!

  • Hi….I LOVE your interactive notebook ….Are the “I can statements” and activities available? Where are they from?
    Thanks so much!
    Lauri

    • They are available in my TpT store! :) (kindergarten interactive notebook)

  • I get your emails and then go to a day in First Grade blog, but get confused about whether your products are for First Grade(which I teach) or Kindergarten. EX: A year of Math Bins

    • Debby, I am currently teaching kindergarten. All of my products (in my store) are labeled first or kindergarten. If you ever have a question, email me at caseybean4@gmail.com– I’m happy to help. I will say that most of my newest products are for kindergarten as that is what I am teaching now! :) I hope that helps!

  • Hi Kristen,

    I am so excited to find your blog. I am a seasoned teacher but It is my first year in kindergarten (I have taught grades 3-6). I love it and am incorporating Reggio ideas as well as international themes (IB) in my teaching. My question right now is about whole group math to start the lesson. Does the whole group lesson match the guided math group lesson? How do these relate? I love the guided math lessons but wonder what the lead up group lesson flows like. Thanks!!

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