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Meaningful Small Groups in Math, Grades K-5

Meaningful Small Groups in Math, Grades K-5
Meeting All Learners’ Needs in Any Setting

Target the Math…Support the Students…Provide Access for All

September 2022 | 280 pages | Corwin

Target the Math…Support the Students…Provide Access for All

The need for focused small group math instruction has never been greater. Today’s education landscape continues to be fraught with learning divides, and unlike its reading counterpart, small group instruction in elementary classrooms has often been reduced to learning centers and rotation stations, without enough emphasis on differentiated, small-group, teacher facilitated learning. We need expanded ways of differentiating so we may fully support students who have remarkably varying levels of understanding and vastly different needs.

 Meaningful Small Groups in Math, Grades K-5 offers practical guidance on how to meet the diverse needs of today’s students. Written for K-5 classroom teachers, math interventionists, and instructional coaches, this user-friendly, accessible book provides guidance on the necessary components of small group instruction in math, trajectories for small-group instruction on specific concepts, and practical steps for getting started. Readers will find

  • Checklists and templates for implementing small group instruction, with sample lessons in the major content domains
  •  Emphasis on flexible groups that take into account students’ strengths and increase their math identity and self-efficacy
  •  Intervention and extension ideas for differentiating learning
  •  An appendix of tips for coaches and leaders to scale Math Small Groups across a school or organization.

To meet the needs of today’s students, a more focused, targeted, and equitable approach is needed. Meaningful Small Groups in Math is here to answer the call.

Part A: Getting Started with Math Small Groups
Introduction- to use this section
Chapter 1: Making the Case for Math Small Groups
Chapter 2: Setting Up Math Small Groups
Chapter 3: Targeting the Math, Supporting the Students, Providing Access for All
Chapter 4: Planning for Math Small-Group Instruction
FAQs & Notes
Part B: Targeting the Math: Planning Small Group Instruction
Introduction - to use this section
Chapter 5: Counting & Cardinality
Chapter 6: Early Number Sense
Chapter 7: Base-Ten Place Value
Chapter 8: Base-Ten Addition & Subtraction
Chapter 9: Base-Ten Multiplication & Division
Chapter 10: Understanding Fractions
Chapter 11: Fraction Operation
Chapter 12: Fraction and Decimal Connections
FAQs & Notes
Part C: Resources & Reflection
Introduction - How to use this section
Chapter 13: Tools and Tips for Planning and Teaching
Chapter 14: Tips For Coaches and Leaders
FAQs & Notes

This comprehensive resource provides the what, why, and how for effectively implementing small group instruction to support every student! Part A provides excellent suggestions, clearly based in experience, and Part B pairs important content with small group lesson ideas. Such a great resource for ensuring students develop confidence and competence in mathematics!

Jennifer Bay-Williams
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY

In Meaningful Small Groups in Math: Meeting All Learners’ Needs in Any Setting, Kimberly Rimbey offers us detailed suggestions on how to get the most out of students working in small groups. These details cover everything from tasks to group size, from how to form the groups to where these groups, once formed, could work. We learn how to answer questions and prompt thinking, and we are provided with detailed lesson plans, planning templates, and resources across a wide range of K–5 mathematics topics. Kimberly Rimbey leaves no stone unturned. I highly recommend this book to any K–5 teacher who is starting to think about using group work as well as any teacher who wants to reexamine and revitalize their use of group work in the classroom.

Peter Liljedahl
Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Mathematics is a beautiful, human enterprise and all humans should be given the opportunity to properly experience its wonder and awe, even our society's youngest of humans. We want our students to know, and always believe, that they are genuinely invited to mathematics. Dr. Rimbey's resource shows how.

James Tanton
Global Math Project
Paradise Valley, AZ

We all know that active engagement—thinking, talking, collaborating, and figuring out—is the key to learning. We also know that small group, teacher-facilitated work is one way to generate this active engagement. But it’s not easy. That’s where Dr. Rimbey’s wonderfully practical and informative book Meaningful Small Groups in Math becomes a powerful resource. With a clear and punchy style—and a slew of examples and models—it’s like Kim was your friend and coach talking with you over coffee about what to do, why to do it, and how to do it when it comes to shifting math instruction for the better for all of our students.

Steve Leinwand
American Institutes for Research
Washington, DC

As teachers move away from whole class instruction, they are often challenged by exactly what a small group lesson should look like and how to go about planning one. The sample lessons in this book follow math content trajectories across grade levels, with formative assessment ideas to help teachers form their groups. The Explore Before Explain (Eb4E) approach used in the lessons allows students to actively participate in concept development, with the teacher serving as a facilitator. This is a book that should be on your bookshelf!

Donna Boucher
Math Coach’s Corner
Houston, TX

Small group instruction is such an important part of the learning cycle. Dr. Rimbey breaks down why and then shows teachers, in plain language, how to set up and successfully run teacher-facilitated small groups. She pays extra attention to how different types of groups are used for different instructional purposes and supports teachers in judiciously matching a type of group with a learning need. As if that weren’t enough, Dr. Rimbey then breaks down the essential pieces of different elementary mathematics topics and then uses those pieces to show how a particular small grouping strategy elevates that content and makes it more accessible to all students. This book is a must-read for any elementary mathematics teacher or leader.

Paul Gray
Provincetown, MA

Rimbey raises the use of small groups to an art form. Small groups are the mainstay of much of mathematics instruction in the form of collaborative and cooperative groups, yet understanding how to organize and facilitate small groups is not always a part of teacher preparation programs or professional learning experiences. How can we better make these opportunities an ideal way to foster student thinking and reasoning, the sharing of ideas in safe spaces, and the inquiry-oriented approach we prize? Meaningful Small Groups in Math guides you through this common configuration. With the wisdom and insight Rimbey gleaned from years of experience, you will find what you need to effectively use small groups. Dig in to find practical approaches, routines, content examples, and ways to make each and every child’s voice prominent as they engage in productive ways to showcase their strengths.

Karen Karp
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

With Meaningful Small Groups in Math, Dr. Rimbey offers K–5 teachers a versatile approach to teaching small group lessons in a variety of instructional structures. Her approach is practical, clearly described, and focused on effectively building upon students’ mathematical strengths with well-planned lessons. As a valuable resource for teachers who want to “let math take the lead,” Rimbey includes a Math Small Group Standards Trajectory Document that clearly maps out the interrelatedness of the standards in each domain—something I wish had been available when I was teaching. While the first part of the book provides guidance on how to get started with math small group lessons, the second part of the book delves into how to create and teach rigorous, engaging lessons with sample plans. Both beginning and experienced teachers will find this book to be an invaluable guide for teaching math using small group lessons, which to me is an essential instructional strategy for supporting the needs of all students.

Laney Sammons
Thetford Center, VT

This book offers a wealth of tips, strategies, and resources for designing effective and engaging small group instruction. You will find the answer to any question you can imagine including how small group instruction benefits students, ways to design small group lessons, thoughts on session duration, discussions of group membership, and even ideas for setting up the classroom to maximize small group instruction. The planning ideas related to some critical K–5 math topics (like counting and cardinality, base-ten addition/subtraction and multiplication/ division, and varied fraction and decimal skills) are an added benefit. This is a valuable resource for any teacher interested in beginning, or enhancing, small group instruction in their K–5 classrooms!

Sue O’Connell
Millersville, MD

Facilitating small group instruction in our math classrooms can be one of the most challenging goals we set out to accomplish each year, but where do we begin? From the size and type of group to what is happening in small groups, and when it’s happening, it can all be overwhelming. Meaningful Small Groups in Math thoughtfully unpacks the smaller nuances and questions surrounding small groups and offers the tools teachers need to meet the needs of the students they support.

Graham Fletcher
Atlanta, GA

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