Differentiating math can be challenging, especially when you teach a combo class as I do. My 4th and 5th grade curriculums don’t align perfectly so while one grade is working on fractions, the other is working on geometry. Even with those inconsistencies, I have figured out a way to teach two grades, give time for students to do centers or math programs, and allow me to work with students who need extra help.
My math time is one hour and 15 minutes each day. I alternate with each grade taking the carpet for instruction. Meanwhile, the other grade works on math programs or center activities. Once the first grade gets the instruction, they will return to their seats to work on problem sets. If they finish then they can go to independent work. I will pull up the next grade and begin their instruction. Depending on the students’ needs I will pull a small group or individuals to reteach a concept or confer about a test, etc.
Sometimes during math, I will do a project or activity that all my students will participate in. Last Friday, I actually did Table Geometry, which is a 4th grade activity to review for the geometry test. I just did it with both grades because it is fun and the 5th graders can use the review. My students love it when I “change-up” the room, even if it is tape on the desks.
The math programs I use in my class is STMath, Zearn, and Prodigy. STMath costs money and my district has purchased it and I am expected to use it. Zearn is free and goes step by step with the NYEngage/Eureka Math that I use to teach math. Both of these programs are required for my students. They are expected to complete so much of each every month. On the first Monday of every month, I bring bagels to those who are meeting those expectations. When students work ahead of schedule and complete the month’s expectations, they are rewarded with using Prodigy, which is also free.
I do have center activities too that I bring out a few times a year. They are Marcy Cook Tiles, Georgia Math activities, 24 Game, and math projects from Teaching with a Mountain View.
I think whether you are teaching different grades or math levels, you must have some independent time for students to practice math, while others get small group instruction or individual help.
Luckily, there are resources out there that are cheap or free. You can find them by googling math programs and shopping on TpT.
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