Math Rotations – Mini-Lessons


Today’s blog post is focusing on how I use mini-lessons during Math Rotations. Mini-lessons are at the beginning of my math block and last between 5-15 minutes. The whole group participates in mini-lessons.   I use the mini-lesson to go over today’s math skill, review rotations, and more.  See below for ideas for your Mini-Lessons…

CGI Mini-Lessons:

CGI stands for Cognitively Guided Instruction and it has changed the way I understand and teach math (I need to do a full post on this at a later time).  When I start our mini-lesson with CGI it can include a few different things.  I often use number talks focused on the day’s skill. For example, if we are doing money I might pose a problem where students need to add the money amounts.  After posing the problem, students have a few minutes to think of their answer.  Then, they share their strategies and I document their thinking by writing it on the board.

I also use Choral Counting as another CGI Mini-Lesson. Choral Counting is a CGI strategy and great when talking about skip counting, multiplication, fractions, decimals, and more.  Below is an example where we were skip counting by 8 and discussing how the multiplication facts line up with skip counting.

I use story problems in my class all the time.  Sometimes I will have students solve one independently and then share their strategies with the class as a part of the mini-lesson.

Anchor Charts:

I often will use the mini-lesson to create an anchor chart as a class.  The anchor chart usually focuses on the specific skill and it is left up as a tool for students to use when they are at rotations.  I normally have a problem or two in mind for the anchor, but the kids help me fill it all in.  I’ve created anchor charts for math strategies, shapes, patterns, and more.  Anchor charts are amazing!

Math Curriculum:

The mini-lesson is a great time to include a whole group component from your math curriculum.  Last year my school used enVisions and I would often do the solve and share activity and show the video during the mini-lesson section.

Explain Rotations:

I would also use the mini-lesson time to go over the rotations for the day.  If there is a new rotation, I would make sure students understood what they were being asked to do. I might model a new game, show them how to use task cards, or show them how to use a math app on the iPad.

Now, I know you might be thinking…Jordan – that is a ton of things to cover in 5-15 minutes. Please know I do not do each thing I listed above every day.   If I did that would probably take the entire math block. I pick and choose different things each day to keep it fresh.  I also pick and choose my mini-lesson activities based on what fits the skill the best.  On Monday I might do a number talk and Tuesday we might create an anchor chart.  One thing I do make sure to review each day is the rotations.  By going over the rotations each day students know what they are supposed to be doing which leads to less interruptions when I am pulling small groups.

If you missed my past posts from my Math Rotations Blog Series, click below…

FREE Math Rotations Planner

Photo of Math Rotation Planning Page for teachers to use to plan out their math block.

Math Rotations can seem a little overwhelming at first especially when you are trying to differentiated to meet the needs of all of your students. To help make this easier, I’ve created this digital or printable planning sheet that you can use to plan out your whole rotation for the day – standards, mini-lesson, rotation activities, and differentiated small group activities. This is a FREEBIE that you can sign up for HERE. Happy math planning!

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