EL Support Lesson

Get Together to Regroup

Teach your students to confidently follow the steps of regrouping in subtraction problems. Use this as a stand alone lesson or alongside *Regrouping with Popsicle Sticks: Double-Digit Subtraction*.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Regrouping with Popsicle Sticks: Double-Digit Subtraction lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

No standards associated with this content.

No standards associated with this content.

No standards associated with this content.

Which set of standards are you looking for?

This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Regrouping with Popsicle Sticks: Double-Digit Subtraction lesson plan.

Students will be able to perform two-digit subtraction with regrouping.


Students will be able to explain how to regroup in subtraction using a graphic organizer and sentence supports.

(3 minutes)
  • Share an example of a time when there were two buses taking the grade level to a field trip. Too many students climbed onto one bus, so they could not all ride to the field trip like that. Some of the students had to get off and go onto the other bus. That way, everyone could get to the field trip. In this instance, the students were regrouped.
  • Ask students to share what they know about the term regrouping as it relates to math. Accept student answers and share a student-friendly definition of the word by displaying the Vocabulary Card.
  • Share the Language Objective for today's lesson.
(7 minutes)
  • Teach the remainder of the tiered words using the Vocabulary Cards. Call on students to read aloud the words and share what they know about the words before displaying the definition. Provide additional examples and invite students to share their ideas. Provide sentence stems to support their sharing. For example, "An example is ____."
  • Tell the class that the main vocabulary word for today's lesson is regrouping, and that they will be working to create clear explanations of how to regroup in subtraction. Encourage them to pretend that they need to explain this concept to a student who is absent, so they need to make sure to explain each step clearly so the person can understand how to subtract with regrouping.
  • Create an anchor chart to display the steps for solving a subtraction problem with regrouping using the standard algorithm. Keep it displayed for reference throughout the lesson.
    • 1 - Line up the numbers vertically based on place value. Write the larger number on the top and the smaller number on the bottom.
    • 2 - When the bottom number in the ones column is bigger than the top number, borrow from the top number in the tens column.
    • 3 - Solve the new subtraction problem in the ones column.
    • 4 - Solve the subtraction problem in the tens column.
  • Display the Place Value Mat: Three Digit Numbers worksheet and model the steps for an example problem. Say, "At the beginning of the year, I had 42 highlighters in the classroom. But 19 have gone missing. How many highlighters do I have left?" On the Place Value Mat, write 42 - 19 = ? vertically, and begin the think aloud as you follow the steps.
  • Invite students to ask any clarifying questions throughout the process or after you have completed the steps. Provide a sentence frame to support their questioning. For example, "Can you talk about ____ again?"
(8 minutes)
  • Display a subtraction problem (e.g., 92 - 84 = ?) and provide real-life context so the problem is meaningful to the students. (e.g., There are 92 students in third grade. 84 of them stayed healthy through flu season. How many students got the flu?)
  • Invite students to talk through the steps in solving the subtraction problem with regrouping while you show the work on the board. Provide the following sentence stems to support their conversation based on the steps that should be followed:
    • First, I need to ____.
    • After the numbers are vertically aligned, I should ____.
    • The next step is to ____.
    • When I regroup ____.
    • Now, I need to ____.
    • Last, I ____.
  • Give the class another opportunity to follow the steps and work together as a group to solve a subtraction problem with regrouping, if time allows. Show another subtraction problem (e.g., Fifty-three students in grades 3-5 signed up to sing in the school choir. 16 of them were in third grade. How many of the choir kids were in fourth and fifth grade?) Have them show their work on the Place Value Mat: Three-Digit Numbers worksheet.
(12 minutes)
  • Tell students that they are going to do a Numbered Heads Together activity to discuss a subtraction problem with regrouping.
  • Put students into small groups of 4. Have each group of students count off by the number of students in the group so that every group has a 1, 2, 3, and 4. If the class is smaller, adjust the numbering for this activity.
  • Present a question that requires explanation by the students. (e.g., 91 - 65 = ?) Provide some context to make it a real-life scenario for students before they begin. (e.g., 91 flowers were planted in the garden, but only 65 flowers bloomed in the spring. How many flowers did not bloom?)
  • Tell them that they will discuss the steps they should follow to find the answer to the problem.
  • Give the groups a few minutes to make sure that everyone in the group can explain each step of how to find the answer to the subtraction problem with regrouping. Allow them to create notes together. At this time, take down the reference chart of the steps that students should follow.
  • Call a random number from 1-4 to be the reporter for the group, and tell the groups they are no longer allowed to talk or write to each other. Explain that the reporters are allowed to use the notes that have already been created. Invite the reporters, one at a time, to explain the next step of the problem, to agree/disagree with the previous reporter, or to justify the reasoning of their group in some way.
  • Reveal the correct answer for the problem after every reporter shares.
  • Repeat the problem with additional subtraction problems that require regrouping to allow all students the chance to be the reporter. For example:
    • The car dealership has 63 cars to sell. 48 of the cars were blue, and the rest of the cars were red. How many red cars were in the car dealership? (63 - 48 = 15)
    • Fifty-four customers came into the restaurant on Friday night. 39 customers ate their meal in the restaurant and the rest took their meals home. How many customers took their meals home? (54 - 39 = 15)
    • I gave the clerk 75 dollars to pay for the groceries. The groceries cost 56 dollars. How much change did I get? (75 - 56 = 19)


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Provide a word bank of key terms and phrases for students to use in group and class discussions.
  • Group students intentionally based on academic and language needs.
  • Give students a set of Vocabulary Cards to support their oral language throughout the lesson.
  • Preteach any vocabulary from the word problems that may be unfamiliar to students. Provide a student-friendly definition and image, if possible.


  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Encourage students to explain their process and answers without using the sentence stems/frames.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
  • Put students in mixed ability groups so they can offer academic and language support to beginning ELs.
(8 minutes)
  • Put students into A-B partnerships and give Partner A a problem that requires regrouping (e.g., 33 - 18 = ?) and Partner B a different problem that requires regrouping (e.g., 41 - 26 = ?).
  • Have each student solve their own problem using their Place Value Mat: Three-Digit Numbers worksheet, and give them each two minutes to explain the steps they took to solve the problem. Remind them to use key terminology that was taught in the lesson, and encourage them to use the sentence stems.
  • Observe and listen to student explanations to determine which learners need more academic and language support in regards to subtraction with regrouping.
(2 minutes)
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about why it is important to follow the steps to regroup in subtraction problems. Call on nonvolunteers to share what they discussed with their partner. Provide a sentence stem to support their sharing. For example, "It is important to follow the steps because ____."
  • Tell learners that having clear steps to follow helps us to better learn a procedure. The process of regrouping is an important one in math because it helps us understand the relationship between the tens and ones, and it makes solving problems easier.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection


New Collection>

0 items