Differentiated Math Fact Practice

Making Ten

4th Grade Resources

A Peek Inside My Math Block

There are so many things to think about when we are planning and teaching a math lesson. We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of all of our students. We have to find ways to incorporate a rigorous review of skills that have already been taught while we are introducing new skills. Not to mention differentiating instruction to hit all academic levels.  There's so many layers of learning that it can get overwhelming.  I'm excited to give you a sneak peek into my math block and how I do all.the.things in a small amount of time.

Take a peek inside my math block and find out how I teach math in my first grade classroom.

How I Set Up My Math Block

It's important to use time carefully and intentionally plan each minute of your math block.
It can sometimes be hard to decide how to spend your time when you have so many things that you want to cover.  Most of our school experience and teacher training taught us to think that if a lesson wasn't long or most of the "period" it wasn't a good lesson.  I'm here to tell you that is not real life in a primary classroom.  

It's important to remember that our young students are learning a lot!  Every single day they are getting exposed to new concepts, experiences, and life.  Then add to that new academic skills we are teaching them and it is just lots and lots of learning.  Combine that with an attention span that is only 5-10 minutes long.  Well, I hope you get the vision of disaster when you put those things together with a 30-minute lesson.  

Over the years I've tried different approaches to lessons and teaching in my classroom. After lots of trial and error, I have come up with a schedule that works really, really well.  It is a very intentional use of time and procedures.  I share it with you because I hope that you can find that sweet spot of time without taking all the years and trials I did.

Building in all the different teaching and practice times into the math block can be tough.  But keeping in mind student attention spans will help.  Keep it short!
Here's what my daily math block looks like:

  • Number of the Day: 7-10 Minutes
  • Mini-Lesson: 5-7 Minutes
  • Guided Practice: 5-7 Minutes 
  • Guided Independent Practice: 10-15 Minute Intervals
  • Small-Group Work: Time Varies

As I looked for math resources to work in this format I had a hard time finding something I liked.  While there are TONS of resources out there for math centers and things like that, I couldn't find any great ones that I could use in these short spurts of time that still provide a powerful learning opportunity for my students. So, I created my own resources to fit my needs, and I'm excited to share them with you. This resource, called Mega Math Practice, covers all of the math standards and skills for the entire year. Paired with our Number of the Day as our math warm-up activity it is my go-to curriculum for math.

Math Warm-Up

Number of the Day is a great daily math spiral review.  I love to use it as our math-warmup activity.
I love to begin to my lesson with a spiral review of skills that students have already learned. We know our kiddos need repeated practice and exposure to concepts in order to master them.  That's why starting each day with a spiral review Number of the Day activity is perfect.

Through the Number of the Day page students are working on a variety of math skills all in just a few minutes of time.  It's a great way to get their brains focused on math and ready for the new learning ahead.  

You can read all about how I use the Number of the Day resource throughout the school year here. It is a great resource that the kids always enjoy. Plus it checks so many boxes for you! 

Mini-Lesson

Next up is our daily mini-lesson.  This is our direct instruction time for new skills and concepts.  Notice that this block of time is not overly long.  In fact, some might think it is downright short!  But no worries - I promise that with some focus and planning, you can teach the day's new skill.

Also, consider the fact, that you don't have a brand new skill each day.  Instead, you introduce a concept and slowly build on it.  This approach is perfect for the mini-lesson.  Instead of trying to teach everything in one sitting, break it up into bite-size chunks your students can work through one day at a time.  

If you have never tried this approach, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at just how well it works.  You might even find that with shorter lessons, you have fewer behavior problems too. 

Guided Practice & Independent Practice

Now that we've completed our mini-lesson, we are ready to move right along to guided practice.  This block of time is when I model our new skill and do some practice right alongside the students.  Sometimes this happens right after the instruction and other times it's a back and forth between teaching and modeling.

Giving students lots of practice with tens and ones is very important to help them understand the base ten number system.Don't skip this step!  Avoid the temptation to let students start practicing.  This modeling and guiding is an important time to teach students the thinking processes behind the math.  During guided practice, I begin with modeling my thinking and guiding students through the mental steps I want them to take.  Then as we continue I gradually do less and less and have the students do more and more.  By the time we reach the end, students are ready to move into Independent Practice. 

During Independent practice, students begin working on their own to practice the skills and concepts from the lesson.  This independent practice is sometimes a single activity that the class completes at the same time and sometimes incorporated into our math center rotations.  

Both Guided Practice and Independent Practice are important components that help lead to mastery.  I created the Mega Math Practice resource for the purpose of providing students with rigorous practice and review activities.  This means students use these activities to practice and review already taught skills.  

I use these activities for guided practice and independent practice.  I like our guided practice and modeling time to have a similar form to independent practice.  By doing this, students learn the form and procedures which then allows them to work independently.  And . . . if you've done any small group instruction, you know that independent activities are key to being able to focus on your small group instruction.  

Small-Group Instruction

Use a variety of activities when teaching base ten in the classroom.  My favorite are from Mega Math PRactice.Small group instruction is where the magic happens.  Similar to small group reading instruction, small group instruction in math allows you to group students based on needs or level.  It allows you to meet students right where they are.  You can work on previous skills that might not be mastered, or move students forward with the current skill.  It's an important component of the classroom that allows for differentiated instruction to be the norm. 

Additionally, in a small group setting it is much easier to really see what each student is doing and thinking.  This allows me to really focus on the needs of the students and guide them through the thinking from concrete to abstract that is needed to understand and master math concepts.  While multiple groups might be working on the same skill, one might be using manipulatives while the other is using written numbers.  

The time I take with each small group varies based on the needs of the students.  BUT, it's important to keep it to 10-15 minutes per group.  During this time I will include direct instruction, guided practice, and student practice activities.  The amount of time for each small group also correlates with the rotating of centers.  

Use Mega Math Practice All Year Long!

What Exactly is Mega Math Practice?

Mega Math Practice is filled with activities to show students a variety of representations and strategies for learning math skills
Mega Math Practice is a comprehensive math resource that includes every first grade CCSS math standard in all four strands:

  • Numbers and Base Ten
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Geometry
  • Measurement and Data
It is jam packed with over 430 pages of digital and print practice activities for your students.  There's more than enough for students to have guided practice and independent practice for ALL YEAR LONG! 

They are completely adaptable and can be used in a variety of ways. I love to use them for guided practice, independent practice, math centers, homework, and small group work. They also work well for hybrid and virtual learning situations.

Give it a Try!

I want you to try Mega Math Practice in your classroom for Free!  I know that once you start using these NO PREP, standards-based activities you will see just how much they will help your students.  Grab one of these free resources or grab them all.  There are sets for different skills so you can find something that you can use in your classroom immediately.

If you are ready to make Mega Math Practice part of your routine, you can grab the year-long bundle of Mega Math Practice on Teachers Pay Teachers.


Save these Ideas!

I hope that this little peek inside my math block gives you some ideas on how you can use your time to help your students master these important math skills.  Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back for more ideas for teaching math and those amazing freebies too!

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