Chapter 10: In the Guided Math Classroom (BMC Book Study)

 "You cannot talk a child into learning or tell a child to understand." (Marilyn Burns 2000)
The power of learning comes from within!

Well this is the last chapter of Laney Sammons's book, Building Mathematical Comprehension. A big thank you goes out to Brenda from Primary Inspired and Beth from Thinking of Teaching for organizing this book study. I am hoping you have enjoyed reading the different posts from the different bloggers and have a few takeaways to add to your teacher's toolbox for the coming school year.

The comprehension strategies outlined in previous chapters can be utilized in conjunction with any instructional approach in the math classroom. For those teachers who utilize the Guided Math approach, you can see how these strategies can support the foundational principles of Guided Math (275).
  • All children can learn mathematics. Yes, they can!
  • Learning at its best is a social process. Let the math talk begin.
  • A learning environment that encourages modeling, think-alouds, guided/independent problem solving opportunities, and purposeful conversations supports mathematical growth.
  • Learning math is a constructive process.
  • Ultimately, children are responsible for their learning.
Students need to be immersed in a world of mathematics. They need to be careful observers who view their world through a mathematical lens in order to investigate and recognize relationships and generalize about their mathematical experiences.

Components to consider when implementing Guided Math:
  • A Classroom Environment of Numeracy. Students should use manipulatives, compute, compare, categorize, question, estimate, solve problems, converse, and write about their mathematical thinking. All students should be expected to engage in making meaning of the world mathematically (281). Have you ever read the book Math Curse by Jon Scieszka? This book is a great way to bring math to life and show that math is indeed everywhere!
  •  Math Stretches and Calendar Board Activities. These activities can require students to review concepts already covered and mastered, relate to concepts currently being explored, or preview what mathematical concepts are to come. (282) When starting a unit on measurement, this Measure Up: Measurement Sort could be used as a Math Stretch to preview what is to come. Click here to view a description of the activity and click here for a copy of the Measurement Sort. This activity requires students to think about what they may already know related to measurement units. The activity can promote mathematical thinking where students then can share their ideas in a Math Huddle. Student thinking can evolve during the Math Huddle and while the unit on measurement unfolds. For calendar math, check out this site. If you click on one of the numbers in the left grid, it will give interesting facts about that number. What a cool way to hook learners and add a little something different to calendar math. What are some activities you do for calendar math? Feel free to link up and share your ideas.
  • Whole Class Instruction. This is the time when all students get the same message and engage in the same activity at the same time. Mini-lessons, modeling, think-alouds, and activating strategies can be accomplished during this time. Caution must be taken when using whole class instruction knowing that some students are hesitant to talk in a large group setting, not all students will necessarily have time to participate, and inattentiveness may sneak up on some students (283). One activity I have done during whole class instruction is Number Talks. Click here and check out this previous post to see how it works. This is just one way you can do it. Have you tried this before? Might this work with your students?
  • Guided Math Instruction with Small Groups of Students. It is imperative that small groups are kept fluid and change based on the readiness levels of students. More time is given to each individual student and observations of students can help drive/guide instruction during small group instruction(284). Click here to find a Small Group Instruction ~ Record Keeping sheet. This sheet can help in recording data that can be referred to when making instructional decisions. Click here to read a previous post about small group instruction.
  • Math Workshop. It is here where students take responsibility for their own learning. It is a time for students to show what they know. Monitoring student work and providing feedback is key to ensuring this time is maximizing student learning (284). Learning contracts and menus can be used to design mathematical experiences for students to work on during math workshop time. Click here to see a Fractions: Thinker Keys Menu.
  • Individual Conferences. Conferences can be used to assess student understanding, identify and clarify any misunderstandings, and to extend/refine student understanding. Conferences should be brief with a targeted goal in mind (285). Have you ever visited Dr. Nicki's Guided Math Blog? Over on her site she has some conference templates you might be able to use when you conference with students. Dr. Nicki's post on Individual Math Conferences can be found here.
  • An Ongoing System of Assessment. Effort needs to be made to ensure there is a balanced system of assessment. Observations, discussions, formative assessments, summative assessments, and student reflections are all essential in a balanced system of assessment. I have used a Lesson Recap as a formative assessment tool to help me gauge my students' understanding. Click here to see a copy of the recap. You can easily adapt it to a skill/concept your students are working on. To read a little more about the Lesson Recap click here. You will find the description towards the bottom of the post.
Whether we incorporate all of these components or some of them in our math classrooms, it is with hope that we are teaching our students to become mathematicians!

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