We are officially a couple of weeks into the school year. I hope you all have had a great start....especially with launching your Zones Math! If you haven't had a chance to do that yet go to this blog post about launching Zones Math to help you get started.
Now I am going to assume that most of you are about 2-3 weeks into your launch. You will still have a few weeks left of this process and then you should be fully up and running. After that is where your data should come into play with small group instruction.
Right now is a great time for you to start collecting data on the progress of your students. You will need it to place students into your small groups. A few ways we typically collect our data is:
As you collect and review your data you will want to record it in an organized way. I'm a huge fan of the excel spreadsheet (just ask my fellow Zones co-creators). I usually record the type of assessment at the top of each column with the students' names along the side. As I enter the scores I often color code them because that is the best way for me to see where students are at. I use a simple system of green (on/above expectations), yellow (just below expectations....or "almost there") and red (far below expectations). You could even separate the on and above group into 2 colors if you really want to, with blue being the above expectations color. Once this data is all in to my fancy spreadsheet it becomes very easy to see where each child is at. If excel is just not your thing and you would rather do this on paper....go for it!!!! Try the color coding though because I bet you'll like it. I also bet there are newer....more technologically advanced ways to record data. Really you need to use whatever format you are most comfortable with!
What I want you to remember the most from this post is not that I am a bit OCD with my color coding, data collecting and excel loving. I want you to remember that collecting and recording data in an organized way will make your life so much easier when you are ready to begin teaching your small groups. There will be more to come on small group instruction! Watch for it in the next few weeks!
Happy Zoning (Zones Math of course....not sleeping, sillies!)
One of the benefits of ZONES is the ability to pull flexible small groups based on students' needs. You don't have to worry about what the other students are doing while you are working with a small group, since everyone else is working in one of the zones.
In our fifth grade class, we frequently use informal assessments - such as whole group whiteboard responses, exit tickets, and quick quizzes - to determine which students to pull into a small group. These groups can change from day to day, just depending on how the individual students are doing. Sometimes all they need is one small group lesson order to understand a concept and be on their way.
This week we are working with division. Yesterday, we gave the students an exit ticket at the end of our math time to see where they were at. As I looked through the exit tickets, I saw that students had varying levels of understanding. I grouped students by what they needed in order to improve: more practice, subtraction (number sense), estimating the quotient, and basic understanding.
As you can see by my notes, you do not need a fancy grouping form, small group tracking form, or any type of form. You can easily use anecdotal notes, exit tickets, or other formative assessments to quickly respond to students and pull small groups to pinpoint and address specific needs.
We would love to hear how you form small groups in your classroom!
We worked on the classroom management and stamina of the ZONES rotations for about a week. The students were doing so well with their choices and staying on task. We then quickly moved to differentiation and pulling small groups.
During the whole group mini-lesson, we gave the students 5 sample problems. We are working on multi-digit multiplication and had been working on this skill for about a week. We were pretty confident most students were close to mastery on this standard, but wanted to ensure no one was falling through the cracks during our informal observation. This is a quick method that works wonderfully for grouping. As the students were working out the problems, we walked and monitored the class with two pens, green and red. We then marked each problem as green (correct) or red (incorrect) at the end of about twenty minutes we collected the student work.
As the students chose their ZONES choice for the day, we quickly grouped the student work by the colored marks. Since we have two teachers (a co-teaching partnership) in this class, we focused in on two specific groups. The students with the most red were asked to pick MemoriZe and work at the front table with me. As other students were working independently on their ZONES rotation, I was able to closely monitor this small group to see what problems they were having during their calculations. Each student was making specific errors in different areas of their calculations. I was able to address each of these issues individually and these students were able to get individualized help to correct their misconceptions.
Also during this time, my teaching partner was able to address the group of students that we flagged as the slow workers. These students only completed 1 or 2 of the 5 initial problems, however their calculations were correct. We wanted to make sure that they were not struggling in any procedural step, but just needed some extra time to work. She was able to conference with these student one-on-one and observe their work within their ZONES rotation choice to ensure their work was accurate, and their understanding was clear.
With the two of us, differentiating and individualizing instruction, and the students practicing the standard skill in various ways within the ZONES rotations, we feel confident that the students will be prepared for the assessment later this week. Within this 20 minute ZONES rotation, we were able to specifically address approximately 1/3 of our students on an individual level and clarify several misunderstandings these students were having. ZONES allows us to have a clear knowledge of the understandings of each of the students in our classroom. This knowledge and the ZONES format allows us to address each student so they can feel successful in math.
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