How to Effectively Track Student Progress in Guided Math

Study after study has proven that Guided Math is a powerful approach with big results in the elementary classroom, but many teachers are hesitant to get started because they lack the necessary background knowledge to pull it off effectively. I get asked all the time about how I track student progress in Guided Math, so I thought I'd share three things that make this tracking process simple!

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.



Once you get your Guided Math program activities and groups organized you'll need to start thinking about how you'll track student work and their progress with the content. Tracking student progress really isn't difficult, despite the fact that you're only working with one small group at a time.  You'll need to focus on two main things:

  1. tracking independent centers and keeping students accountable for this work
  2. assessing work during teacher-directed lessons using:
  • student written output or exit slips
  • teacher observation forms

Tracking Independent Centers

As I explained in my last post, when I refer to centers as independent, what I really mean is that my students are working apart from my direct supervision. Since I am working with a small group on a directed lesson, my students must manage without my help. It also means that they must be accountable for completing the work just as I would expect them to if I were observing.

The first step, as I mentioned in the first blog post of this series, is to have your expectations made very clear so students are 100% sure about what you want from them.

Since I like to keep my centers very hands-on, there isn't always written output for students to turn in at the end of their time.

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

My absolute FAVORITE time-saving resource in my classroom is the free Seesaw app.

At the end of each of our Guided Math sessions, my students document their creations or explain what they learned using this amazing platform. You need only one device in your classroom for this to work effectively, although having more is certainly preferable.

Seesaw works on iOS and Android devices, Kindle Fire, Chromebooks and computers with Chrome or Firefox.

What if you don't have a device? While I would find it difficult to imagine that a classroom doesn't have at least one of the above pieces of technology, it is possible, even in the 21st century! Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Ask your administrator to provide one.
  • Appeal to student families or your own friends and family to donate any older, unused devices.
  • Check on online buy-sell-trade sites.
  • Check garage sales or second-hand stores.
  • Consider setting up a Go Fund Me or similar campaign if your district allows it.

You really won't be sorry. Seesaw has made assessment and progress-tracking so much easier in my classroom. If you're interested in reading more about this platform, there is another blog post linked at the bottom of this page!

Assessing Teacher-Directed Lessons

Assessing your small-group lessons is much easier to do, since all of the work is happening right before your eyes. The key is getting yourself organized to collect multiple types of student performance data.

Your students are unique. I explained the importance of differentiation in the previous post in this series, and this differentiation applies to your assessments, too. When I am teaching Guided Math lessons I am prepared to collect two main types of assessment data: 
  • student written work 
  • documentation of observations and one-on-one discussions

Written Work

Collecting student work is straightforward and easy. If my students complete a paper-and-pencil activity I can collect it (or have them document it using Seesaw) and can assess it at a later date.

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

Exit Slips

Another form of written student work that I like to use is the exit slip.

If my students have completed a largely hands-on, demonstration type of lesson activity, there isn't necessarily any written output. An exit slip allows you to capture a quick snapshot of student learning during the session in a two-minute written task. I love to use sticky notes for this!

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

I keep a page for each of my students in my Guided Math lesson binder and collect all of their exit slip stickies in one place. 

Teacher Observation

Until well into my career as a teacher we were required to have written output to document student progress, but as the education system continues to change, teachers have been given more freedom to rely on professional judgement, and our observations of student performance in the classroom have become as important as the written work.

What is important to note with observation is that you really should have a system for documenting it, or reporting will be a challenge. During my Guided Math lessons I use observation forms that I print on sticky notes. These forms are usually quick checklists related to the curriculum expectations or standards the lesson focused on, as well as a small space for me to jot down necessary notes.

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

Again, I print these on sticky notes so that I can collect them all in one place in my lesson binder.

Ready-to-Go Resources

It is a big job to prepare all of the differentiated assessment forms and activities you'll need for Guided Math.

My Guided Math Centers will take the work out of planning independent work and provide you with many opportunities for collecting written student data. My Differentiated Lessons contain all of the exit slips and observation forms you'll need, plus an editable version so that you can create slips to exactly meet the needs of your individual students.

Click on either of the images below to see ALL of my Guided Math centers and lessons!

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

And take a look at my newest addition to the Guided Math family of resources - digital activities for the "At Work On My Own" category! These contain helpful documents to help you teach your students to upload their work into the top education apps, including Seesaw!

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can use Seesaw in your classroom, you can take a look at a popular post here:

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

Take a look at more primary math resources and ideas on this Pinterest board:


Pin this post for future reference!

Thinking about trying Guided Math? Getting organized to track student progress is important for Guided Math success. Learn how to easily and quickly collect data during hands-on student centers and teacher-directed lessons in this final post of a three-part Guided Math series.

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