How to Create Your Math Groups & Goals in 4 Easy Steps

Nothing feels better than working with a small group of students who are just getting it. During whole group instruction, there are always some students who seem to be drowning and getting them into the right math groups with the right math goals can be the absolute make or break difference in their success.

To be entirely clear- these steps will help you to form groups for tier 2 or tier 3 math intervention. This is NOT how I would suggest forming groups for a tier 1 guided math approach! Following these steps will ensure that you are forming targeted, skill-based intervention groups. 

Step 1: Determine What Should ALREADY be Mastered

Tier 2 and tier 3 math instruction are about being responsive to students around instruction that has already been delivered that your students should have previously learned and demonstrated proficiency on. 
  • Think about the last unit that you taught and list out the standards or goals that you would expect your students would have mastered coming out of that unit. 
  • As an alternative approach, look at the upcoming unit. What foundational skills or standards do your students need to be successful in that unit? List out the skills and standards you know your students must have to be successful. 

Step 2: Look At Your Data

No! Please don't stop reading! I know that the "d" word can make you run for cover but there is absolutely no way that you will set effective groups and set effective goals without taking a look at where your students are now. 
  • Look at your assessment or student work from that past unit- what questions can you look at to determine whether or not your students have met the skills and standards you identified in step 1? 
  • Don't have enough information to make effective groups? Create a short but meaningful assessment or performance tasks so that you have the information you need. Short on time? If you are looking at a performance task- don't assess all of your students! Only assess the students who you are questioning. 
  • For each standard or skill list the names of the students who have NOT yet met that standard. 

Step 3: Make Your Math Groups 

Looking at the list of names for each standard, you have some decisions to make. 
  • Are there any standards that have a long enough list of names that you need to consider re-teaching this skill or standard whole group? Make that a priority! 
  • For lists that are shorter, can you create one or more small groups to address this skill? 
  • Do you have students that show up on every single list? Consider grouping those students together and determining which skill or standard you will start with. You will need to meet with this group more frequently because you have more work to do! 

Step 4: Get Out Your Calendar 

Or better yet, click and download the free guide (including a calendar) below! This plan is entirely useless if you don't have a plan for how you will show up and follow-through for your group. 
  • Find a time that you can commit to meeting with these groups. Maybe you only have time for one 15 minute group each day- that's fine! Not ideal... but fine none the less. Put that 15 minutes on your calendar IN PEN. 
  • Looking at the month, block off the days where you have an assembly, sub, party, etc. that will be getting in the way of your groups. 
  • Look at the remaining days and write in the group or groups that will meet each day. Keep in mind that groups with more goals will need to meet more frequently. Groups with fewer goals will need to meet less frequently. 
Download this free planning guide to put these strategies into practice. The sooner you fill out the guide, the sooner you will have a solid plan for your small groups. The sooner you have a plan on the calendar, the sooner you will be meeting with those students and experiencing their joy as they are successfully meeting math goals in your classroom! 

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