How to Begin Using Small Groups in Math

“I want to begin using small groups in math and like the Tabor Rotation Framework. How do I “dip in my big toe?”

1. Divide your class into 4 heterogeneously mixed groups.
*The groups should not be the same as any other group which occurs in your room.
*Math groups.
*Have each team name themselves from a list of your subject’s tested terms. If time allows, have each team create an icon for their team.
*Post this list, with roles noted, in your room.

2. Appoint leaders and co-leaders to assist with the 4 groups.
*The students who are leaders and co-leaders should be the students who are able to motivate others to remain on task, able to give directions, able to clarify procedures, and able to guide students with questions.
*The leaders and co-leaders should be trained before implementing the Tabor Rotation Framework in your classroom.

3. Meet with each team and give all team members a role. Give each member a responsibility sheet [Tabor Rotation Team Roles] and review it with them.
*Model and practice the behavior you would like to see in your leaders, co-leaders, and students.
*Determine the “currency” of your students which will provide initial extrinsic motivation. Use a point system to encourage positive peer pressure [Tabor Rotation Team Points
4. Locate where you would like each station to be located in your room and how you would like the desks organized during Rotation Days.
*The Teacher Time Station should be at a table or group of desks where students can use manipulatives easily and record information. Teacher Time should be located where the teacher can easily see the rest of the class working during rotations.
*The Games Station should be opposite Teacher Time but in an area where the noise level won’t disturb your small-group, guided math instruction at the Teacher Time Station.

*The Manipulatives Station may be at a table, group of desks. There must be enough room for the students to work in pairs with concrete objects and/or workmats.
*If the Technology/Application Station should be located near the technology hardware and software needed for the activity. If technology is not a part of the station activity, then the students need to have a hard surface available to them.

5. Ensure the smooth and timely movement of students/activities to and from each station. Teacher Time and Games will switch. Manipulatives and Application will switch so that each week goes from active to passive. Have a specific location labeled so the last class can replace the activities in their storage area.

6. Determine initial station concepts which are at mastery level for 85-90% of your students. This allows the students to practice the procedures of the rotation framework without having to struggle with lack of conceptual understanding.

7. Think about the readiness level of the students for the concepts initially placed in the stations. Try to give pre-assessments at least 3-4 weeks in advance.

8. Organize planning guides, clipboards/readiness charts, materials, activities, seating/group charts.