Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Guided Math in Action book study Ch. 1 & 2

I'm so excited to share what I learned from reading the first two chapters in Guided Math in Action. I'm linking up with Sarah and Courtney from Adventures in Guided Math for this awesome book study. If you read her post, you'll see that Sarah and I had the same idea. Great minds think alike!

One of the ways I promote perseverance in my classroom is what I call "Fix it Wednesday". I return checked work to students and they have to make corrections to it. The goal is for students to learn from their mistakes and independently work through problems they are having. They can get frustrated at times. They struggle. They whine. They fuss.

I stand my ground and they begin to learn. While the majority of students are working on their "Fix it" packets, I have the opportunity to work closely with a few students who are having misconceptions or need reteaching. I assign a few students as "experts" (usually students with few errors) to walk around and support other students. I have carefully trained them to never give answers, but to ask leading questions instead. This is also a time I invite parent or community volunteers to assist with checking work so I can focus on my small group. Students in my class learn that I never give away answers and they will be expected to work through their problems.
I was surprised to find that my "old" math block is quite similar to the block suggested in Chapter 2. I start with calendar and number of the day routines and then transition to whole group mini lesson. Finally, I launch into math stations and meet with my groups. I spend quite a bit of time at the beginning of the year establishing norms, routines, and procedures for math so that it will run smoothly even if I have a sub. I have also been thinking about how to get my kids talking about math more. Here's what I've learned:

I often ask students to turn to an elbow partner to share their ideas, problems, strategies or answers. Each child can share what he or she said OR what their partner said.  I often tell them to share their strategy without giving away the answer so it gives respect to different ways of solving problems. Giving students think time and letting them bounce ideas off a partner or in a small group is much easier for some students that participating in a whole group discussion. I praise students who learn from their mistakes! I make a huge deal about their learning process so they aren't afraid to share. I will sometimes have groups solve challenging problems together. Each one has a role so that everyone is participating and learning. These are usually problems they would not be able to solve easily by themselves. Finally, my students know that they will each have a turn to lead/teach the calendar or number of the day routines. It is so great to hear them ask each other questions.

Next year, however, I want add a few things to make my math block even better. First, I want to start with an "Energizer", which is explained as a quick game to get students' minds thinking about numbers. The example in the book is a game called, "I'm thinking of a number". I have played this game in the past to fill a few minutes here and there, but I'm really thinking it would be a great way to start each math block. One thing I'm also going to add are Math Thinking Prompts (p. 16) that I'll display around the room. I often ask students to tell me why they got an answer and they often change their answer, rather than defend it. Here's a picture of some of the prompts I'll post in my room (you can grab them here for free!):


  1. I also want to use the math energizes in a more intentional way. Love your thinking prompts posters! I'm definitely going to work on getting my kiddos to talk about their thinking more this year.

    Teaching Little Miracles

  2. Leave your email and I'll send you the thinking prompts posters.

  3. Great post! I love the idea of fix-it packets!

  4. I enjoyed reading your post. I really like the 7 ways to build a community so students will talk about math. I, too, believe a sense of community helps students to feel more comfortable with sharing their ideas.

  5. Wow! Love your thinking posters! Those are the types of questions we intuitively ask as teachers, but it's great that you have a visual for your kids to focus on. I loved that diagram in the book, and it definitely is something that needs to become a regular dialogue in my class!

    The Teaching Crew