Implementing Guided Math sounds amazing, right? But many teachers don’t even attempt to do it in their classrooms because they are concerned about what students will be doing during guided math independent practice.
After all, this is when most behavior issues occur, right? When the students are working independently and not being watched closely by you!
However, I’m here to encourage you! Your students can do this! You just need to set up a system that keeps them busy! And that’s what I’m going to share with you today!
Must Do May Do
Most behavior issues occur during the independent part of Guided Math. And this can usually be traced back to students having a lack of things to do. Either they finish their work too quickly or they’re bored with what they are working on.
A must do may do chart can really help eliminate this issue in your classroom.
It’s fairly self-explanatory, but the idea is that you want to give mandatory tasks, and then tasks that students WANT to do. It’s really important to make sure your may-do tasks are appealing and motivating so your students work hard to get to them. It’s also important to make sure you don’t have too many mandatory tasks for the amount of time your students will be working independently. If they never can make it to the may do activities the whole system will fail to motivate them and keep them on task.
You can even differentiate your must do may do charts for individual students. This is especially helpful if you have any students who tend to get off task when asked to work independently. Giving them their own chart can help keep them focused!
So what types of activities can you use for must do and may do tasks for independent practice? Let’s go over a few.
Today’s practice page is usually the first must do activity for my students. It’s predictable and it doesn’t require them too spend too much time on it so they are able to work towards other activities. If you use my Guided Math units, there is a practice page for each day! If you have a textbook you can assign some problems to your students instead.
Fact fluency is always one of my must-do tasks. Without strong fact fluency, students often struggle with many other grade level math skills. That’s why my students do some type of fact fluency practice every day!
I am a huge fan of Xtramath and I have made this one of my students’ daily must-do tasks. If you haven’t heard of it, be sure to check it out. It’s a great tool for getting students to practice their math facts daily. And it automatically differentiates and gives you reports!
Flash Cards or Wipe-Off Sheets
If you don’t have the devices needed to let your students practice fact fluency with Xtramath, you can also use flashcards or wipe off sheets. (Print a math drill sheet and stick it in a sheet protector. Students can practice their facts with a dry erase marker. To make it self-checking, print the answer key on the back!)
Digital centers can be opportunities to play different math apps or math games on websites. Depending on how many devices you have available for your students, you may be able to easily use digital centers in your classroom. These are normally highly motivating for students and so I recommend this be one of your may do tasks!
Looking for digital math lessons that can be used for independent practice? Check out my 1st-5th Grade Digital Math Units!
These units are Google Classroom ready!
For other independent math centers, I always have a large variety of centers for my students to choose from. Every time I introduce a new skill, I introduce the center, then add it to my centers bucket. (Normally I keep centers in ziploc bags–quart sized or gallon sized.) I allow my students to work on these centers during Guided Math independent practice. These are almost always may-do activities.
Note: I keep LOTS of centers in my centers bucket. At the beginning of the year, I have review centers in my bucket. As the year goes on, I rotate centers and remove others. This helps keep the standards fresh in students’ minds all year.
I hope these ideas have helped you figure out what you can have your students do during the independent part of Guided Math. Remember, it’s important to have MANY activities for them to choose from, as well as a must do may do guide to keep them on task!
Looking for more support? Check out this blog post where I teach the changes I made to Guided Math to make it run better in my classroom! I’ll share my secrets with you so you can have success with math small groups too! 🤫