Guided Math Groups for Upper Elementary

Guided Math Setup

This year I am teaching departmentalized 3rd grade math. It’s my favorite!! With so many students coming to me on different math levels, I was needing to find a way to meet all of the students’ needs. Guided math has been the answer! I am able to differentiate easily for my students and I am able to catch students’ misconceptions easier. I know many teachers who have turned away from guided math because they feel it is too much prep (I was one of them actually). Keep reading to see how I have simplified my guided math setup!

What do students do during small group time?

Station Overview

At the school I work at, 22 is the classroom size cap and most of the classes are full. I start with this information because when I tell you I only have my students rotate between 3 stations (which means 7-8 kids in one station) it might sound like chaos to you. Hang in there with me because with proper setup it will not be chaotic. I also do not have students rotate to me as a station. I pull students from their stations to my table to work with them, which means station numbers are also cut down because of the students coming to my table.

The 3 Stations:

Fact Practice-

Teaching 3rd grade my students have to know their multiplication facts.. WE use an older version of Rocket Math at this station, but you can find the updated version here. With just a little prep and Practice you can have students running this station independently. I have the sheets set up in hanging folders and I teach my students to complete the page, time their partner, and record their results. When students finish their fact practice page, they can choose from a variety of fact practice games.


Other Fact Practice Resources: For this station:

Multiplication Sundaes-

Multiplication Self Paced Program-

Multiplication Facts Kicking It Program-

Monster math Addition Facts Program-


Addition Facts Kicking It Program-


I have done two different versions of my technology station this year. I have utilized Google Classroom and ImagineMath. Imagine Math is an online program purchased by my district. If you are looking for an online math program, check out Imagine Math, I love it!

For google classroom, I used the show me app and created videos for my students to watch over content previously taught in class. After they watched the video, they answered a few questions over the same content the video taught. If you want more information on Google Classroom or the Show Me app, please email me I would love to dive deeper!


Assessment Station

This station changes daily to meet what my students need. Different options for this station:

  • Game board with task cards
  • Worksheet over content taught
  • Versatile Page
  • Vocabulary activity
  • STEM activity

My Teacher Station

Earlier I mentioned I do not have my teacher station as one of the station rotations. I pull students from the stations based on what they need. This way I do not have to ability group my students in stations. You do you boo, but when I have ability grouped my students in stations there is always a group who struggles to complete activities or assignments. When students are mixed ability grouped, students are able to help one another complete activities. Sometimes the best teachers are the students in the class.

How to group students for Teacher Station

When I pull students to my table I base it off of data from unit tests, classroom activities, missing assignments, and benchmarks. After the first benchmark this year, I grouped my students based on their scores. I separated my students into groups just like you would do with reading levels for guided reading groups. My lowest groups I see 3-4 times a week, my middle groups I see 3 times a week, and my top groups I see 2 times a week.

My lowest groups are working on adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and fractions. According to previous STAAR tests, these content areas make up the largest portions of the test. I start with think alouds and a lot of modeling, then we move to guided practice, and finally they try a few on their own. This group will move at a much slower pace than the other groups.

My middle groups will focus on the same content areas at my low groups but I will move more quickly with these groups. Once we have finished working through those content areas, we will move to individual plans for each student based on what they are still struggling with.

My top groups will get individualized plans for each student. It gets a little more chaotic with these groups but I do not want to reteach them something they already know. If they master all of the 3rd grade curriculum, then I will move them to 4th grade material.

I love guided math groups because I am able to differentiate for every students’ needs! I am picking up on the small details holding students back from mastering a skill. If my principal was to ask me about a particular student, I feel I have more information about them since I am doing guided math groups!

Taking Notes

Each time I meet with a group, I take short anecdotal notes. I will write down things like; whether they forgot to regroup, switched the numbers around, can’t remember the difference between perimeter and area, or they can’t identify clue words. I have created a page for these notes, and you can get it for free here. I also have a place on the back to write notes down what to do next with the group and a place to evaluate whether you want to keep the group the same or change it.

Final thoughts

If you feel like you do not know your students academically as well as you would like, then guided math groups are for you. If you have set high goals for yourself and your students this year, then guided math groups is for you. If you want to easily differentiate learning for your students, then guided math groups are for you!

Be sure to comment with your success stories about guided math groups or any questions you still have.


2 thoughts on “Guided Math Groups for Upper Elementary”

  1. Curious…Do the students stay in a station for certain amount of time, then rotate? Do they go to each station every day?


    • Yes my students stay in stations for 15-20 minutes a station. I received a smart board a couple of years ago and I use the timer feature to signal for students to rotate. You can select a drop down box to have the slide change automatically. PowerPoint also has a feature which will change the slide after an allotted amount of time.

      This is the first year my grade level was departmentalized and for the Fall semester I had students go to only 1 station a day. In the Spring I had students rotate every day to the three stations I mentioned above. Next year we will go back to self contained and I will probably go back to 6 stations. The students will go to 3 stations a day and on Fridays we do a different activity or 3 of the no prep stations.

      Hope this helps!!

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