Monday, July 4, 2016

Guided Math in Action - Chapter 2

Happy Independence Day! I hope that you are enjoying the holiday with great people!

Chapter 2: Guided Math in a Numerate Environment was mostly the breakdown of each part of a guided math schedule, and a brief description of each. The important thing to remember is that students need to be engaged in independent activities that are meaningful. Talking about math out loud and a student’s reasoning behind their thinking is very important to guided math. Which brings me to another important point Chapter 2 makes, that talking about math vocabulary, both new and old is extremely important. How can a student explain their thinking without the proper background vocabulary to do so?

Here is an example of what the book says a guided math period should contain: 

5-10 minutes *each - calendar, problem/number of the day, math strategy practice
10-12 minutes *each - whole class less/mini lesson, journal/share time
12-15 minutes - (1-3) rotations of math centers/guided math group

So if you do the math, on the low end of the minute spectrum, your math block would be about 70 minutes long. If it was on the long end, it would be about 100 minutes. I have kind of brainstormed how I could cut this time down a bit. Seeing the first month or so would be teaching procedures and how things would work, I would take this time to teach "how to" do the calendar and problem/number of the day. Then when they are independent, these will become a "center" to go to instead of a whole group time. 

Okay, let's break down the sections guided math contains.

Calendar & Word/Number Problem of the Day
It is recommended that students have their own calendar folders, where they each keep their own individual calendar with different activities that go with it. These can also be individualized based upon the students level of expertise. Number of the day is the students taking the given number and showing it different ways: drawing base ten blocks, addition and/or subtraction problems, tally marks, show it in word form, money, or any way that the students can represent the number. 

Whole Class Mini Lesson
This time is a great time to bring in a different way of learning, for example: watching a video clip or reading a book about that days topic. You could teach a song or make an anchor chart about that skill, play a game or introduce a new skill. This would also be a great time to review and or introduce math vocabulary.  

Number Talks and Energizers
Number talks and energizers can be done whole group or during your small group time. You are talking about different strategies or the different ways to model a problem. Energizers help to build fluency. They give an example of a game called "I'm Thinking of a Number". In this game the teacher thinks of a number and the students ask math questions to try to arrive at that number. For example: is the number larger than 50?

Rotations/Math Centers
During this time the teacher is pulling small groups and the rest of the class is working on independent math centers. Here they said that a rotation should only last as long as the age of the student, plus a few minutes. You would do 1-3 rotations based on the amount of time you have for your math block. They also make note to make sure you are seeing your expert groups too!

They stress to not skip this part of your day, because it brings closure to the math time. It also allows for some sharing about what a student did that day at a particular center.

Reflection Questions
1. In what ways do you give students an opportunity to think flexibly about numbers throughout the year? I currently do math whole group, and stick to a worksheet, so that doesn't leave a whole lot of room to think flexibly. We talk about numbers pertaining to what we are learning, but there is no freedom in that. 
2. Do you use a variety of instructional strategies to launch discussions about your current unit of study? The way that math time is run (see above) does not really give students the time to think and explore. 
3. The end of your math period, how do you summarize the learning? Do you write in a class journal to document key takeaways? No, I usually do not summarize our learning for the day. We usually just move right on to the next subject. I also have never used a math journal. I have bought them, with the good intentions of trying them out, but never followed through.

Sitting here just reading my reflection question answers makes me feel terrible. I am missing out on some great math opportunities in my classroom. But I am not just keeping on, here I am on summer vacation reading and learning something new, so that feeling of terrible is going away a little.

I already have several ideas brewing in my head about how I can make this work. My biggest hurdle is going to be student behavior during centers. But I think that if I take that first month and build stamina and hammer procedures and expectations, make my "centers" engaging and keep the time frame on the shorter end, we will be okay!

Thank you for reading! I hope you will stick with me for the whole book, I'm planning a guided math freebie for the end!

Great adventures await you!

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