Guided Math in Action ~ Chapters 3 & 4: Managing the Math Workshop and Forming Guided Math Groups

Welcome back! Today I am going to discuss chapters 3 & 4 from Guided Math in Action as part of a book study hosted by Adventures in Guided Math.

Chapter 3: Managing the Math Workshop

I liked how the chapter started. Start slowly. Start calmly. Start immediately. Just start! (pg 29) The whole management piece can be daunting.  Routines. Procedures. Expectations. Setting the stage and adhering to the expectations are key. I keep thinking back to guided reading. If similar routines, procedures, and expectations can be found in both reading and math, the transition for students might be easier.

After reading the chapter, I keep thinking back to "hot topic centers." (pg 31) It's not to say I don't think about "hot topics" or the need to recycle and review "hot topics." But I want to keep monitoring and adding to it throughout the year. What "hot topics" come to mind for your students?

One key component of math workshop is having supplies and math tools readily available. In looking at the Figure on pg 36, I really like the varied representations of math tools. I feel it is so important that students have multiple ways to view math. It reminded me of a lesson where students represented decimals to the hundredths place using base-ten blocks, a centiwheel, and money.

All math tools are kept in a community location for easy student access. Organizing manipulatives in student packs makes for more efficient use. The Standard for Mathematical Practice #5 states: Use appropriate tools strategically. After instruction, I allow students to choose the tools they feel will be most useful when practicing new concepts or solving problems. One thing I am sure to do is to introduce and model the correct use and functionality of math tools for students first before they are added to the community location.

Management of guided math takes time, patience, and PLANNING.

Chapter 4: Forming Guided Math Groups

This is the best chapter so far. Small group instruction is key to helping us meet students where they are so we can take them where they need to go (pg 9). While reading the beginning of this chapter what resonated with me was the statement that it is very important for teachers to work with small guided math groups at ALL levels, not just the lowest-performing (pg 41). I know this is not always easy to do, however, if we are going to take our students where they need to go, ALL students deserve the benefits of small group instruction. Dr. Nicki's story about the first grader, Miguel, was a gentle reminder to those students who may already know the current lesson and probably need something more. Math workshop seems like it can afford opportunities for ALL students to complete tasks at their readiness levels in order to move their learning along.

One of the things I have learned when forming groups is I not only need to allow data and teacher observation to guide my decision ... but also student voice. Student voice through reflection and conversation. The groups need to remain fluid. I think building a sense of community early on in the math classroom helps students to understand that "fair is not always equal." Highly capable students are not highly capable in everything; struggling students have areas where they shine. Honoring where students are ready to learn is important to me, yet sometimes it is not always easy to find the "right fit" on the "first try."

Record Keeping. I jot down little notes in the moment when working with students so those thoughts and observations are not lost. Because I don't want to take away from the interaction with students, I keep my notes concise but try to target key points. Sometimes after reflecting about the lesson, I might have an afterthought and will jot down any additional ideas on a sticky note if there is no room left. One record-keeping sheet that I have used is the one below. Click on the image and grab the FREEBIE if it is something you can use.

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