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Using Assessment Data to Target Small Group Math Instruction

Math, Small Groups & Math Centers

Written by: Katie Palmer

The time of year has come for you to kick off small group math! But, we all know how precious time is in the classroom! So, how do you know which small group math activities will be the right ones to use for targeting the skill gaps your students have? Read on to find out how to use math assessment data to target the specific areas your students need to practice. Also, we'll give you some ideas for targeted small group math activities to use!

using assessment data to target small group math instruction

Start with a Math Screener

Our Math Small Group Kit includes an ah-ma-zing screening tool to pinpoint problem areas for students. The screener has assessments for 32 skills! Some of theses assessments need to be administered one-on-one, while others can be administered whole group.

use the Lucky Little Learners math screener to assess skills for more targeted instruction

The skills included in the screener are:

  • Counting to 100 & 1,000
  • Identify numbers to 100 & 1,000
  • Missing numbers
  • Skip counting
  • Place value to 100 and 1,000
  • Addition to 20, 100 & 1,000
  • Subtraction to 20, 100 & 1,000
  • Measurement
  • Coins
  • Money word problems
  • Time to the hour & half hour
  • Time to 5 minutes
  • Fractions
  • 2D & 3D shapes
  • Graphs
  • Comparing within 100 & 1,000
  • Odd & even numbers
  • Arrays
  • Word problems one-step to 20 & 100
  • Word problems two-step to 100
  • Mental Math
  • Multiplication

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use the lucky little learners math screener to target individual or small group interventions in 32 areas

After giving the screener, teachers can target individual or small group interventions to areas where the student missed a few questions.

The Screener is Finished.. Now What?

Once you've finished screening your students, you're ready to create your math groups and start targeting individual math needs. You've probably found that your students are struggling in one or more of the following areas:

  • Number Sense
  • Place Value
  • Addition/Subtraction
  • Geometry
  • Measurement

Check out some fun and effective interventions for each area below!

What to do When Students Are Struggling with Number Sense or Place Value

So you've figured out your student needs help with their number sense and place value strategies. Time to get out an intervention activity that can be done one-on-one or through small group math. The Math Small Group Kit comes with five interventions, as well as other activities, to tackle this learning need.

First, what exactly are Number Sense and Place Value? Number Sense is simply the having a sense of what numbers mean.

Can students…

  • …identify the larger and smaller number between a pair of numbers?
  • …tell you where the ones or tens place is in a number?
  • …count by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s?

You get the idea! If your answer to any of these questions was no, here are some activities for that student.

1. Number Line Exercises

Hands on number lines exercises are a beneficial way to help these students. This could be done during whole or small group math. In the Math Small Group Toolkit, a number line game is provided! In this game, the teacher creates a number line using masking tape. (This is an easy way to differentiate what each student or group needs!) Students will put post-it numbers where they belong along the teacher created number line, making this activity super interactive! It is perfect for small group math because the teacher can work with whatever number series each group is struggling with.

2. Number Sense & Place Value Math Mats & Games

If a student needs a targeted intervention in place value & number sense, the Math Small Group Toolkit has effective math mats included to practice these skills. These mats included rolling & comparing numbers, spinning and building numbers in a ten frame and ways to show a number. The mats & games would be very helpful in targeting specific skills, and are engaging for students.

practice math skills with number sense and place value mats

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3. Hands-On Place Value

Students who struggle with place value can benefit from visual and tactile interventions. Traditionally, teachers use place value blocks provided through the district's curriculum. These are great tools and work for most students. However, some just don't understand why their teacher is calling blocks ones or tens. Using actual blocks (think: the ones that click together) can allow students to build their own groups of tens. When they have built some tens “towers”, show them how they can now count those by tens. Next, give them a two digit number have them show it with the building blocks. The choices are endless and this activity will show students what ones, tens (and hundreds if they are up for that much building) are! This is not the only hands-on place value & number sense activity included in the toolkit!

Others included:

  • Four square: students use a bouncy ball (hello, fun!) to fill out a place value chart for a selected number
  • Popsicle stick place value-using popsicle sticks and clips they will build “popsicles” for a 3-digit number

What to do When Students are Struggling with Addition and/or Subtraction

If you have students struggling with their addition and/or subtraction facts it is time to practice this skill to build automaticity. Try to get them away from counting on their fingers. While they are practicing with the following interventions, why not teach them the lightning fast skill of making a ten and adding the extra! If you want a quick teacher-made tutorial on the make a ten strategy, check out this video by Tori Kuhn: Make Ten Strategy for Addition.

Check out these other intervention ideas!

1. Sticky Math

A great way to work on math facts is through Sticky Math! (You can read even more about Sticky Math here: Math Facts Practice for 1st and 2nd Grade.)

Sticky Math is a great strategy to use as it is different from traditional timed tests. (Students that already struggle with their math facts are sure to get stressed watching their peers move to the “next level” in timed tests while they stay at the same one.) Sticky Math is self-correcting, students make their own goals and they are reusable when put in dry erase pockets.

practice math fact fluency with sticky math

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2. Hands-On Addition & Subtraction

The hands-on Addition & Subtraction games/strategies included in the Toolkit are super engaging for students! Teachers can pull these activities out when their students need something new or are struggling to focus (or just for fun). Here is a look at some of the activities:

  • Subtraction smash: make and smash play dough clumps to see subtraction actually happening!
play subtraction smash for hands on skill building in small math groups
  • Addition Race: Using actual toy cars, they race their car down the road adding their totals to get to the finish line first.
use toy cars for addition math interventions in first and second grade

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3. Addition Math Mats & Games

Working on math mats has proven to be a beneficial learning strategy. Hands-on word problem mats allow students to act out the word problem with maniuplatives and might help them understand what happens when we add or subtract. They are also engaging as students will add or subtraction apples on an apple tree or fish in the ocean.

use math mats as a fun and hands on way to build math skills

Other mats included work on number bonds fact families. Math mats are best used as individual or small group interventions until students are confident at using them.

What to do When Students Are Struggling with Geometry

Are some of your students unable to name shapes, how many sides, corners, etc? If so, it is time to use geometry interventions!

1. Geometry Worksheets

Search through worksheets covering 13 geometry topics. Teachers can hand select the skill they want their students to work on! These worksheets are great for whatever intervention is needed, whether it is individual, small group or whole group.

2. Hands-on Geometry

The Math Small Group Kit is packed with hands-on activities. A great hands-on activity that gets students practicing their geometry skills is by building the shapes! All you'll need: toothpicks and play dough. Teachers can select certain shapes (either 2D or 3D) for students to work on. They will make the shape and then use the provided graphic organizer to answer shape attribute questions.

hands on shape building activities for small group math

When Students Are Struggling with Measurement

When students are having trouble with measurement, whether it be telling time, measuring length or graphing, there are several different approaches you can try.

1. Measurement, Time, Money and Graphing Worksheets

Targeted skill worksheets are a good intervention fit when measurement is the issue. With 82 printable or digital worksheets included with this resource, it is sure to target those needed skills!

2. Hands-on Measurement

The included hands-on interventions target time, money, graphing and measuring length. Here is an example activity:

Lego Bowling: for this, students create block towers and then use a marble to “bowl”. They create a bar graph of the number of blocks they knock over.

use legos for graphing activities during small math groups

This is just one sample of the engaging and meaningful hands-on measurement interventions.

3. Additional Math Mats & Games

In addition to ALL the amazing intervention ideas listed above, the Math Small Group Kit also comes with the following games and vocabulary activities in all areas: Number Sense/Place Value, Addition & Subtraction, Geometry & Measurement.

test math vocabulary knowledge with crossword puzzles from the lucky little learners small group math kit
  • Game Mats: Candy City and Slides & Ladders Games are partner or group games that are included for each of the math domains mentioned above!
try game mats during small math groups for a fun and effective way to build math skills

We hope the Math Small Group Kit, along with the additional intervention ideas mentioned above, helps your students gain more math skills and enjoyment.

Why not try a few of the intervention resources free? Sign up for a free All Access membership and grab the resources you'd like to try.

As always, happy teaching!

use assessment data to target small group math instruction


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