Quick Tips for Back To School

Have you already hit the ground running this school year?  I've teamed up with some of my friends to give you some wonderful tips for back to school.  I hope you will hop along and check out some easy, QUICK tips that will help you save time, get inspired and ready for the Best School Year EVER!  Not only that, but we are each sharing a chance for you to receive a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers to get your year started right!  Make sure you visit each blog and enter. There will be multiple chances to win and several winners.  It could be YOU!
The tips I am sharing with you are simple ways to help you differentiate your math instruction. Often, so much attention is placed on how to differentiate in reading, but we lack ways to help meet the individual needs of our students in math. But, there are ways to make it work!

How do you differentiate math instruction?
Have you read Guided Math by Laney Sammons?  After reading this book, I knew that I needed to spend time finding ways help students individually.  Meeting the diverse needs of the varied ability levels in your classroom can be quite difficult- especially in math.

One way to differentiate math instruction is through a daily spiral review based on each student's individual needs.  Do you have students who haven't mastered the skills from the previous school year?  Perhaps you have students who lack basic computational skills that were covered 2 years prior. Allowing students an opportunity to complete math practice that is on their own instructional level not only helps them master skills they need, but it also builds self-confidence.

Why should you use a spiral review?
One of the most effective ways to foster mastery and retention of mathematical skills is through a daily cumulative review.  A daily math review should take between 5-10 minutes and should allow students an opportunity to be exposed to skills and concepts that touch all mathematical domains every single week.   Keep in mind, this is only one component of the entire math block, and not the sole method of math instruction. Students also need to be exposed to depth and complex problem solving while focusing on one skill/concept at a time, too.  However, why wait until May to teach any type of geometry?  In many cases, geometry isn't introduced until April or May...and we all know how busy and hectic those months can be.

How do I determine which grade level spiral review to use for each student?
If you are lucky enough to have access to a placement test, you could administer that assessment to determine which grade level your students need.  However, an easy way to determine the level for each student is to look at your content standards vertical alignment and determine if your student has mastered a certain (grade) level.  I wouldn't focus on every single standard.  That would take way too long.  Instead, get a general idea for a student and go with your instincts.  You can always bump a student up or down based on how he or she is doing.

How do I make this work in my busy classroom?
One of the easiest times to have students complete their spiral review work is during your "morning" routines.  Depending on which type of spiral review you use, student are only completing a few questions a day.  However, you can also have students complete the questions during stations, for homework, or as they complete other assignments during the day.

How do I use the information from their daily work?
Use the information that you gather from your students' spiral review work to build your lessons for guided math.  Are a few students not understanding how to find equivalent fractions?  That group gets pulled during Guided Math/ Math Workshop.

If you are interested in reading more about Guided Math/ Math Workshop visit the links below:

Math Workshop: Building Routines That Last a Year

Math Stations...Making It Work

More on Math Stations

Math Workshop Monday

Or, you can simply type in "math" to the search feature on the sidebar of my blog to find more posts about Guided Math or Math Workshop.

If you are interested in checking out my spiral review resources, click on the images within this blog post to find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Each one has one free week as a FREEBIE for you to try out.  Just download the preview for the free week!

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Now, hop on through to find even more tips and chances to win! 


  1. I love Guided Math!!! It has made a world of a difference since I started it 5 years ago. Will you be making the spiral review for second grade??

    1. Yes! I just posted it! It is a growing resource and you can get it for less while I finish creating it :)
      Math Moves: 2nd Grade Spiral Review

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