Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Math Block in a 1st/2nd Split

I've had a few questions on how I manage a 1st/2nd split with math, and I thought I'd take a quick post to share with you! By no means do I have it all figured out... It's taken A LOT of trial and error and conversations with my coworkers. I'm thankful for the awesome people I get to work with who are invested in helping each other!

My class is made up of high-level first graders and average-level second graders. My first graders are smarties. No joke. Seriously, it's been SO fun to be their teacher. They catch on to new material so quickly! They're very high readers, so differentiating for my class in reading isn't bad at all. However, math is a different story. As I'm sure many of you know, first grade and second grade math is crucial. My firsties are bright, but in no way are they ready for 2nd grade math. 

My math block this year looks a bit like this:
When my class was set-up, the big factor we needed to figure out was, "How the heck should we structure math?!" I had read up a bit on guided math, but I still wasn't sure how to make that work with TWO grade levels of math standards to teach. In the end, it was decided that we needed my first graders to for sure have core, first grade math instruction. So each day, I send my first graders out to 5 separate first grade rooms for 30 minutes of math.

I'll admit... it was hard at first. To let go of control in such a HUGE content area kept me up at night for awhile. HOWEVER... Our first grade team is absolutely incredible. My first grade kiddos love going to their rooms for math, not to mention the fact that they have made double the amount of social connections! The first grade teachers are so welcoming, fabulous communicators, and the best group of collaborators I've ever met. (If y'all are reading this-- LOVE YOU.) 

So while my firsties are with them, I'm left with 11 second graders for 30 minutes of whole group math. And it's glorious. 
With such a small, manageable group, we play games. We share our thinking about numbers, strategies, and problem solving with great success. I L-O-V-E this 30 minutes. I spend so much time sitting on the carpet with these kiddos talking through our learning each day. They love the small group time that we have together, and we get SO much accomplished in those 30 minutes.


My first graders return while my second graders are working independently. Once my second graders finish their independent work, they may choose a math center or partner math game. Because my first graders are coming from five different classrooms, they inevitably all come in about 3-4 minutes apart. To manage the, "What do we do while we wait for our other friends to return..." dilemma, my first graders come in and grab their monthly math journal and a clipboard and begin working on the next journal page at the carpet. These are the same journals my second graders use, only the first grade version. (Thank you Missing Tooth Grins for these LIFESAVERS!)
I get both 1st & 2nd grade monthly no prep journals from Alisha over at Missing Tooth Grins.
Check out her 1st & 2nd grade journals HERE!
Once my first graders are all back, we spend 5 minutes or less going over the journal page. After that, the next 20-25 minutes are spent in enrichment activities. I plan extension activities with another first grade teacher each week. We look at what they're working on in whole group and then plan activities that push their thinking further. Our goal is take what they've done in whole group and take it up a notch (or two). I usually do a quick mini-lesson for 5-10 minutes, and then they're off to complete the activity. These activities are usually worksheet free. We'll play math board/dice games, go on math hunts, or complete various math puzzles. I love when they come in and say, "What math game do we get to play today?!" So cute, and learning is FUN!

Here's a look at what everyone's doing during the last half of math instruction:
I love the last 30 minutes of our math because my whole class is back together. Even though everyone is doing something different, it's so fun to be apart of the learning that's going on. Some days I have to stop myself and just look around the room for a minute and smile at everything going on. Don't get me wrong - it's not everyday... but more often than not I find myself becoming more and more enthusiastic about teaching math to this group!

I hope you found this post useful! I know I didn't get to cover everything, but I hope it gives you a basic overview of how we've structured 1st/2nd math in my room. It's definitely an adventure each day... How do YOU structure math each day? I'd love to hear!

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