Guided Math - Chapter 1

If you close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting in math class back when you were in elementary school, what do you see? Chances are the teacher is at the chalkboard or overhead and you and your classmates are sitting at your desks with your books open, following along with the teacher (or not). A few kids are called to the front to work problems on the board, the teacher assigns problems from the book, gives the class some time to work and that's it.

 Does that sound familiar? 
Was that method successful? For some, but for many...no. Lots of kiddos decided they just weren't good at math. The problem with this is if you've decided you're just not good at math...you are shutting doors. There are lots and lots of professions that are simply not open to you when you "don't get math".

That's not what I want for my students. I want them to have every opportunity available to them.

Did you know that 78% of adults can't explain how to compute interest paid on a loan? 71% can't calculate miles per gallon? 58% can't calculate a 10% tip at a restaurant!
It's clear that old model just isn't working, yet many teachers still employ that traditional, whole-class model. Reading instruction has changed from the old model to one that is child-centered. The same changes are called for in math instruction.

We need and effective means to reach ALL students, regardless of their readiness level. Think about those Common Core Standards. There's more process than just content. That old model just won't meet those standards.

So- what is Guided Math? How does it work? What does it look like in a classroom?


The instructional components:

  1. A Classroom Environment of Numeracy- Most teachers set up their classrooms so that all who enter know that literacy is valued. Can the same be said for numeracy? We need to set up math-rich classrooms just as we do print-rich, and establish an environment in which children feel respected, supported, and are comfortable taking risks in problem solving and sharing their thinking. We need to strive to put a "Math Curse" on our students....where they begin to see math EVERYWHERE. 
  2. Math Warm-Ups & Calendar Activities-Simple daily activities that help get those math muscles moving. You may have your students add to a "Number of the Day" chart every day. You might have a math focus wall with activities that help students review previous concepts, preview ones coming up, & provide practice with math facts or problem solving. It's important to note that these activities are mostly oral--this fosters those important conversations about math & encourages a deeper understanding.
  3. Whole Class Instruction- Are you surprised? There's a place for whole group in Guided Math! It's just not the only method of instruction. Whole group is an excellent venue for introducing or reviewing a concept, presenting activating strategies, or presenting literature connections at the beginning of a unit.
  4. Small Group Instruction- Students are assessed formally or informally (Did that surprise you? It did me...I thought it had to e formal). Students are grouped based on those assessments. Here's another surprise: Not only can the time for each group differ, but so can the content being taught.
  5. Math Workshop- The answer to the proverbial question: What are the read of the kids doing while I'm in small group? Participating in workshop tasks like math games, problem of the week. Math Journals, written practice of previous skills, center activities, or inquiries. 
  6. Individual Conferences- Just like we conference with students during  reading or writing, teachers can meet with kiddos to support understanding.
  7. Ongoing System of Assessment- This is how we determine the needs of the class and of individuals. Formative and summative assessments can give us valuable information. 

But not all of it has to be done every day! You can choose the various components as they apply to your class. You can choose from the menu below. Sammons suggests teachers begin with just a few of the components and gradually add more.  



What might a week look like in the classroom?
 Sammons offers this example of what a week of Guided Math might look like. Of course, this would be adjusted based on what's going on in YOUR classroom. As she says, this is just "an example of the kind of flexibility the framework offers".



I love this model! I actually feel a little liberated. 
There were some surprises for me:
Small Group doesn't have to be every day.
Informal assessment is valued, too.
Workshop doesn't have to happen every day, either.

Did you have any surprises? Questions? Concerns? Revelations?
I'd love to hear them! Let's discuss! 
Leave a comment, add to the stixy, or link up.
Let's get this party study started!

Have you heard about stixy? It's basically an online bulletin board where you can add virtual sticky notes. I've set one up for this chapter...please go check it out! 
Once you get there, all you have to do is click on "note" down at the bottom, drag it up to the board, & an option menu will appear on the right. Have fun! See you there! 

Update - as of December 31, 2013, stixy is no longer available. :(