George Lucas Educational Foundation

Math time troubles

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I am in need of some advice for helping my math time run a little smoother. Our district uses the Everyday Math Program. I usually spend about 15-25 minutes on instruction. Then I have students work independently in their math journals. I have a group of about 8 boys who are finished with the two pages before I can even get to my group of students who are struggling to work on their own. I have other activities for those who finish their assignments early. However, I want to check their math journals to make sure they are correct and complete. I am having a hard time helping those that are stuck while checking those that are finished. Does anyone else experience this trouble? Do you have any suggestions?

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Mary Kate Land's picture
Mary Kate Land
Montessori 4-6th grade teacher

Hi Cassandra,
Managing diffierent paces can be a challenge when you are trying to offer help. I wonder if the students who feel finished could pair off and compare their journals to see if they have all covered the same points. Another possibility might be checking the first few students who are finished and then using them to peer teach your struggling learners. We are expanding the use of peer teaching in my classroom because we have seen such enormous benefits for both the teaching students and those who need the extra support. The other technique I rely on is silent reading. My fast-finishing students usually welcome any opportunity for a brief interlude with their current novel. Hope this helps!

Sam's picture
Elementary Math Teacher (Grades 1-6), Academic Intervention Specialist, NY

I am the AIS Math coordinator for my Elementary School. Everyday Math is a seriously lagging program and does not provide proper feedback on students progress. Many of the teachers in my district run into the same problem as you. I think a good use of time would be giving students who have completed work in their SMJ a quick Curriculum Based Assessment to track their progress. Sites like, which are free, offer meaningful data on student performance and can help you and your school maintain compliance within the RtI framework. I also like the above post and think peer-based support or "Think-Pair-Share" is a great way to benifit your class. Good Luck!

Ms. A.'s picture

Thanks - I'm using a different curriculum, but I let the student who finishes first correct his work and work with peers while I work with other kids. It works out well. Thanks for the URL, I like the assessment idea.

Ken Cornett's picture
Ken Cornett
Retired: Grades 4 to 12, specializing in curriculum development

Not too sure what grade level you are teaching, but if you are teaching the basic math facts, each of these programs allows students to buy into the program, you can teach the entire class or individual students can work on the program, while charting their progress individually. If you would like to check out one of the programs, you can download the Addition program, which is about 270 pages, has 10 addition songs, 28 audio files , and flash card designs. There are instructions for the teacher and for the individual, so if the individual is capable of working on his own, there are data sheets so you can follow his progress and that he has to hand in all of his papers at the same time for you to double check. There are also audio and written tests you can administer to him/her to make sure that they are progressing step by step and not skipping any of the steps. Also if you have any questions about the program, you can email your question to for clarification. Only 15 minutes a day is needed with this program.

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