Learn how to teach and plan an effective math mini-lesson during your guided math workshop in the K-2 classroom. Read this guide for tips and ideas of what to include and not include and the benefits. Grab your free list of math mini-lessons for K-2.
How to Teach Effective Math Mini-Lessons in K-2
Once your class has completed their math warm-up activities, it’s time for a whole-group math mini-lesson. Pull kids together on the carpet or tables to teach your math mini-lesson to the whole group.
A mini-lesson is a short lesson that teaches a specific math concept in a focused way. This quick lesson is introduced to the whole group and sets the tone for what you will teach after during math small groups.
This is an excellent time to explain or introduce a new concept, connect to prior learning, or review a concept you’ve taught previously.
Why teach mini-lessons?
I remember teaching when differentiation was a relatively new term and wasn’t something to strive for. I planned and taught ONE math lesson for ALL my students.
Frustration took over as I ran out of time and couldn’t connect with all my students. I felt the pressure to move on to teach the next math topic without knowing for sure whether my students understood what I taught them.
Have you been there?
I wanted to move away from the long, drawn-out whole group lessons, where kids lose engagement and lack that one-on-one time.
Whole group mini-lessons that follow the math workshop “guided math” structure changed things for me, and they can work for you too.
Below, you will gain tips for teaching effective mini-lessons and the benefits and learn the breakdown of what to include in your mini-lesson.
4 Tips for Teaching Math Mini-Lessons
For your whole group math mini-lesson to be effective and meaningful, you must remember a few simple things. These will help you avoid overwhelm and stay focused on the goal of introducing a topic, connecting to prior learning, or reviewing a concept.
- Keep it short. Design short, powerful mini-lessons that are 15-20 minutes long in your guided math schedule.
- Be specific. You don’t have to teach everything about a particular math concept during your mini-lesson. Trying to do this will overwhelm students and your goal will not be accomplished. Focus in and pick one thing to focus on, and go deeper during small groups.
- Differentiate. Avoid teaching your mini-lesson in the same way, each day. Try a variety of strategies and modes of teaching to see what works best with your students and what they respond best to. For example, use whiteboards, math manipulatives, anchor charts, video, books, etc.
- Keep kids engaged. By keeping your math mini-lessons short and to the point, you will have an easier time keeping them engaged. Another way is to get them involved and participating. When students are actively learning, they will enjoy their learning and acquire new skills in more fluid ways.
Benefits to Teaching Math Mini-Lessons
Math mini-lessons are essential! The benefits make them an essential part of our guided math schedule.
- As previously mentioned, math mini-lessons keep students engaged and interested while focusing on one skill at a time.
- We gain immediate feedback and can see where we need to fill the gaps in future mini-lessons.
- We observe where students are at and where we should go deeper during our small group instruction.
- Mini-lessons are adaptable. They can be used to teach specific skills, extend learning, and reteach concepts.
- They are quick and compelling, yet, don’t require a lot of time. That’s a win win!
The Breakdown of a Math Mini-Lesson
A math mini-lesson sets the stage and has students beginning to think about a specific math concept, skill, or strategy. It is also used to review, model, or explain something. What you include in your mini-lesson will depend on where your students are at.
Make sure to have a clear plan of what you will teach to stay focused and stick to one key teaching point. Make sure to express yourself clearly and think aloud when you are modeling to students.
Stay on track and be aware of time to keep things short and to the point. Aim for 15-20 min max. Look for that small win and go for it!
One way to teach an effective mini-lesson would be to take your entire math lesson and only teach the first part – the remainder gets taught in small, differentiated groups.
Here are some ideas of what to teach and include during a math mini-lesson:
- Start with a math warm-up.
- Review a previous lesson. Build upon the lesson and then, move forward quickly.
- Use this time for your math assessment.
- Model a new skill or strategy. Do this while students watch you teach and you explain and show the strategy.
- Introduce new math vocabulary or a math concept poster.
- Facilitate quick student practice on whiteboards or with one type of math manipulative.
- Have a question or problem ready on a chart for students to answer on a whiteboard or with a partner.
- Ask, respond, and reflect to questions that come up during a lesson. Notice where the challenges are and use them for future mini-lessons.
- Read math books for kids that focus on the math concept you are teaching.
Here are some things to remember and NOT do during a math mini-lesson:
- Refrain from talking too much or teaching too long. Kids need time to practice, talk about, and try the new concept.
- Don’t teach more than one concept at a time. This causes overwhelm and takes too much time.
- Try to avoid reteaching something students already understand. Moving too slow or at the pace of your lowest learner can cause other students to become bored and unmotivated.
- Use caution when using math tools. Math manipulatives are better used during small groups, math centers, or independent practice time. They take too much time to hand out, organize, and can become a nightmare to manage in a short amount of time. If you want to use them, pick one and have a clear plan of how to stay organized!
Free Math Mini-Lesson Ideas for K-2
Are you stuck not knowing which mini-lessons to teach? Grab a copy of our printable ideas list to gain TONS of mini-lesson ideas for Kindergarten, first, and second grade.
Click the image below to grab a copy.
Using Mindful Math for Your Mini-Lessons
If you are looking for a comprehensive math program that allows for easy differentiation and provides supportive lesson ideas and activities to support your Guided Math schedule, then Mindful Math is for you!
The Mindful Math curriculum by Proud to be Primary includes detailed lessons that can be broken down into whole-group mini-lessons and small-group instruction. It also has various math practice options, such as journals, warm-up task cards, practice sheets, centers and games, and assessments.
See the Mindful Math program in action here.
More Math Ideas for K-2
Math Warm-Up Activities
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