8 Types of Instructional Strategies for Teaching Math (Grades 1-5) in 2022 – Clutter-Free Classroom

There are tons of different types of instructional strategies for teaching elementary math, but which is the most effective one that maximizes student engagement, deepens student understanding, and boosts standardized test scores? This blog post will explore the different types of instructional strategies for teaching math to help you determine which one will work best for you and your classroom.

This blog post will answer the following questions:

  • What are educational strategies?
  • What are the different types of instructional strategies for teaching math?
  • Can you tell me what the best instructional strategy for teaching elementary math is?
number talk lesson during guided math workshop

What are Instructional Strategies?

Instructional strategies is a general term that refers to any type or teaching technique teachers use to support their students in their learning of concepts and skills. The goal of using instructional strategies is for students to be able to independently select the best strategy and use it effectively during learning experiences and real world situations.

This blog post is going to on instructional strategies as a broader term to describe the different types of instruction teachers can use to teach math and provide practice opportunities to their students. Read below to learn about 8 math instructional strategies!

What are the Different Types of Instructional Strategies?

There are many different types of instructional strategies for teaching math. This blog post is going to focus on the following instructional strategies for math:

  • Whole class math instruction
  • Math centers
  • Independent practice
  • Partner work
  • Math menus
  • Flip classroom
  • Small guided math instruction
  • Math workshop
teacher doing a whole group math lesson

Whole Class Math Instruction

The first on the list of Instructional strategies for teaching math is whole class math instruction. Below are the strengths and weaknesses of whole class math instruction.

Pros of Whole Group Math Instruction

  • Reduces the amount of time spent planning
  • Decreases the amount of time prepping materials
  • Ensures all students are exposed to the same content
  • Supports teachers in getting quick formative assessment data
  • Serves as an effective way to introduce a topic
  • Benefits auditor learners
  • Facilitates class-wide discussions
  • Creates a learning community
  • Provides opportunities for students to learn from one another
  • Encourages the use of math talk

Cons of Whole Group Math Instruction

  • Limits the teachers’ ability to provide differentiated instruction
  • Reduces participation of introverted students
  • Increases amount of students off task because they may be bored or lost
2nd grade students in math center during guided math workshop

Math Centers

Below are the strengths and weaknesses of math centers.

Pros of Math Centers (also called math stations)

  • Increases student engagement
  • Invites students to practice a variety of different skills
  • Allows the teacher to provide differentiated learning opportunities for students
  • Benefits hands-on learners
  • Provides opportunities for collaboration and independent learning
  • Enables the teacher to pull small groups
  • Promotes problem solving skills

Cons of Math Centers

  • Creates a limited amount of time students are getting teacher-led instruction
  • Requires more planning than whole class instruction
  • Increases the amount of time students need to learn procedures and routines compared to whole class instruction

Partner Work

The next Instructional strategy for teaching math is partner work. Below are the strengths and weaknesses of implementing partner work.

Pros of Partner Work

  • Provides opportunities for collaboration
  • Invites students to practice communication skills
  • Promotes problem solving skills
  • Allows the teacher to pull small groups
  • Teaches responsibility

Cons of Partner Work

  • Creates a limited amount of time students are getting teacher-led instruction
  • Can lead to off-task behavior
guided math workshop in action partner work and independent activities

Independent Practice

Below are the strengths and weaknesses of independent practice.

Pros of Independent Practice

  • Gives students the opportunity to apply their learning
  • Allows the teacher to pull small groups
  • encourages independence
  • Teaches responsibility
  • Lets the teacher to provide differentiated learning opportunities for students
  • Promotes problem solving skills

Cons of Independent Practice

  • Creates a limited amount of time students are getting teacher-led instruction
  • Results in students who struggle with executive functioning skills being off-task or lost

Below are the strengths and weaknesses of math menus.

  • Allows the teacher to pull small groups
  • Gives students choice and autonomy over their learning
  • Provides a variety of engaging learning opportunities for students
  • Creates a limited amount of time students are getting teacher-led instruction
  • Results in students who struggle with executive functioning skills being off-task, overwhelmed, or lost
math menus and flipped classroom activities

Flip Classroom

Below are the strengths and weaknesses of a flipped classroom.

Pros of a Flip Classroom

  • Visual and auditory learners benefit from this
  • Saves valuable class time for addressing misconceptions and inviting students to collaborate with peers and engage in hands-on learning experiences
  • encourages independence
  • Teaches responsibility

Cons of a Flip Classroom

  • Reduces the certainty that all students received the instruction
  • Decreases the amount of time students are passively listening in class
  • Requires at-home WIFI and parent participation in math
guided math small group instruction in action

Small Guided Math Instruction

The second to last of the Instructional strategies for teaching math on this list is small guided math instruction. Read below to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of using small guided math instruction.

Pros of Small Guided Math Instruction

  • Empowers the teacher to provide differentiated math instruction
  • Enables the teacher to take notes on each student and develop a deep understanding of each student as a mathematician
  • Gives students individualized face time with the teacher
  • Works with remote learning and hybrid learning
  • Keeps students engaged and excited about learning
  • Encourages the use of math talk
  • Benefits hands-on learners

Cons of Small Guided Math Instruction

  • Requires a lot more planning than whole group instruction
  • Increases the amount of time students need to learn procedures and routines compared to whole class instruction

Math Workshop

The last of the instructional strategies for teaching math on this list is math workshop. Read below to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of using math workshop.

Pros of Math Workshop

  • Encourages the use of math talk
  • Benefits hands-on, auditor, and visual learners
  • Gives students the opportunity to apply their learning
  • Allows the teacher to pull small groups
  • Promotes problem solving skills
  • Supports teachers in getting quick formative assessment data
  • Creates a learning community
  • Provides opportunities for students to learn from one another

Cons of Math Workshop

  • Requires a lot more planning than whole group instruction
  • Increases the amount of time students need to learn procedures and routines compared to whole class instruction

What is the Best Instructional Strategy for Teaching Elementary Math?

There are tons of math teaching strategies out there, but Math Workshop with Guided Math is the most effective instructional strategy for teaching math. It includes all of the benefits from the following effective teaching methods: Whole class math instruction, math centers, independent practice, partner work, Guided Math instruction, and the Math Workshop framework. You can learn how to launch Math Workshop with Guided Math in my Guided Math Workshop course.

Math Resources for 1st-5th Grade Teachers

If you need printable and digital math resources, then check out the math collections below. They will save you lots of time creating and search for materials. You will have a massive collection of resources at your fingertips. This is helpful for any of the Instructional strategies for teaching mentioned above.

Try a Collection of our Math Resources for Free!

In closing, we hope this information about the different types of instructional strategies for teaching math is helpful and would love for you to try these math resources with your students. They offer elementary students opportunities to practice grade level concepts and skills in fun and engaging ways. You can download worksheets specific to your grade level (along with lots of other math freebies) in our free printable math resources bundle using this link: free printable math activities for elementary teachers.

Check out these other math resources!

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