Special Education Math Groups: This is How I Structure My 20 Minutes

Text "SPED Math Routines: Here's How I Structure My 20 Minute Groups" with Image of Amanda Sitting Behind a Desk
As a special education teacher, I cover so many grade levels. I struggle to fit in time for math. Typically, I have about twenty minutes for each of the special education math groups that I instruct.
In that twenty minute small group, I have SO many things to cover. I like to practice multi-digit addition and subtraction, as well as math facts. Depending on the group, I also cover other skills that are critical for my students, like reading graphs, telling time, counting money, word problems, and number patterns.
But how do I get all of that done in twenty minutes?
Student Completing Math Problems on 3-Digits Week 1 Day 2 with a Hundreds Board during Special Education Math Groups

10 Minutes: Addition & Subtraction Computation

I spend the first ten minutes of our group working on computation. We begin with addition and subtraction WITHOUT regrouping. As the year progresses, we begin working on addition and subtraction with regrouping.
For my students, we often work hard throughout the entire year in order to master this goal.
Copy of 3-Digits Week 1 Day  Math Problems with a Cellphone Laying on Top with a Timer Set to use during Special Education Math Groups

2 Minutes: Prize Box Problem

I don’t know about your kids, but my students with disabilities are often capable of so much more than they believe. In my small special education math groups, I found that they were relying heavily on ME to guide them through each problem. I needed a way to motivate them to try problems on their own.
So, I began to have them complete a prize box problem. I set a timer for ten minutes when we first begin our group. We work through each problem in our booklet until the timer goes off. When it does, the very next problem becomes our prize box problem.
If they can solve it correct on their own, they can get in the prize box. It’s simple but effective! Earlier in the school year, I had different requirements to get in the prize box, such as starting in the correct column, trying to regroup, or attempting the problem by themselves.

5 Minutes: Critical Math Skills

We are PUSHED for time, and we have gotten pretty good at speeding through some of these critical skills. We practice things like reading graphs, telling time, counting money, solving word problems, and number patterns.

3 Minutes: Timed Math Fact Test

While this group is usually focusing on larger problems, I still think solving math facts fluently is important. At our school, a lot of our classroom teachers give some form of timed math fact test, whether it be on paper or digitally.
I think my students need that practice in a safe place. We work on small mastering small goals in a few minutes per day.



  1. Antonella Bellini
    August 21, 2020 / 4:15 pm

    Thank you for going through your math group step by step. Really helpful!

  2. Jocelyn
    September 9, 2020 / 3:58 pm

    Hi I saw sent the initial math lesson for week 1. Are there other lessons available…. free us great but even to purchase? I loved the first week and would love to add this to our homeschool schedule.

  3. Jayne Cummings
    September 13, 2020 / 6:44 pm

    Where can I purchase the math activities book that you used in your presentation?

  4. October 24, 2020 / 3:27 pm

    I think this was going to help my students out I am going to try it this week but I think this will help

  5. Stacy
    November 2, 2020 / 12:04 am

    Hi Amanda,
    I read your blog post- Special Education Math: This is How I Structure My 20 Minute Group from July 31, 2020.
    Where can I find this math item that you use during this 20 minute math group time? I didn’t see a link for it
    to your TPT store. I was interested in getting it.

  6. Shirley DeWitt
    November 18, 2020 / 4:46 pm

    I like the idea of a timer, so that the students get into the pattern.

  7. Ashley
    January 20, 2021 / 10:14 pm

    Where would I find the math fact practice pages and are they also available for multiplication? Thanks!

  8. Kerry
    March 19, 2021 / 11:36 pm

    I love the daily math for my first grade group. Where can I find the TIMED MATH FACT TEST to add to our routine?

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