The second to last blog post in my math series is this one. It is one of the best ways to finish a series that has been jammed-packed with information. In this blog post, we will dive deeper into math instruction. We will discuss how to differentiate math instruction, covering the basics like how to set things up, how to differentiate during a lesson, etc.
How to Differentiate Math Instruction in Elementary School
There are many different ways to differentiate math instruction in your classroom. It depends upon the amount of time you have in your math block, the grade level you teach, and the activities you want to include in your differentiated instruction. I thought it would be a good idea to create a post to help you. Here are some ways to help implement differentiated instruction in math.
Form Differentiated Math Groups
First, these small groups should be flexible. You will have some students who struggle with one math concept. Then the next topic they comprehend and can do with 100% accuracy. Flexible differentiation groups will make your life much easier.
You may use a formative assessment to help you, group students by ability or topics they need to review.
When you group students, use shapes, colors, or numbers to let students know which group they are in. A rotation board is always a great display piece and will allow your students to know exactly where they should be working. Some students may be working with the teacher, while others are playing a math game, and others are working on independent practice work.
Remember, when you differentiate instruction, you do not need to be working on entirely different mathematical concepts with each group. You can focus on something like adding fractions but change the word problem depending on the group’s ability.
Differentiated Math Worksheets
When discussing how to differentiate math instruction with other teachers, they often say, “I don’t have time to make a bunch of different worksheets for students.” 100% true. We do not have the time, and luckily curriculum developers have heard our cry for help. Many curriculums often include differentiated math worksheets for you to use in your differentiated math instruction. You can also use them if you have students working independently on worksheets for a center.
This is where you can incorporate some review work and even things from past grades! When looking at the curriculum you are about to teach, decide which students will struggle and which will thrive.
You may have a prerequisite quiz to determine the groups or your curriculum may come with a program that groups kids for you! You can create an independent work packet for students to use as a center with all worksheets or activities to help them learn. Remember, you want to make sure students have the strategies needed to work independently on the work.
Once you have met with the students and are teaching specific skills, you want to ensure each student has a chance to practice and master the skill. Students learn through teaching but also problem solving and productive struggle.
Use your math centers as an opportunity for emotional learning with group or partner work. Using leveled math centers like the one I have in my TPT store is a great way to get students practicing and mastering different math topics without having a teacher watching over their shoulder.
These Math Centers pretty much run themselves and include:
- 13 different 5th-grade math topics
- Differentiated questions/activities
- Student recording sheet
- Teacher answer key
Having different types of activities in your math centers will keep students from becoming bored and will allow you to see what your students have mastered and still needs a little work.
How to Differentiate Math Instruction…Easy Peasy
Math differentiation may seem like a lot of work at first, but when you sit down and plan it out, it’s much simpler than one first thinks. Just use your curriculums tools and your ideas, and get help from others (wink, wink), and you will be all set!
Looking for the other math series posts?