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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study Chapters 1 and 2

Welcome to part 1 of my Guided Math in Action book study!  I will be posting on two chapters each Wednesday for the next 5 weeks.  Please join in by writing your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  If you want to write about a blog post about your ideas, leave the link in the comments.  

July 2   Chapters 1 and 2
July 9   Chapters 3 and 4
July 30 Chapter 9

Chapter 1:   Guided Math: An Introduction

This chapter lays out the basic structure of guided math.  A session of guided math, it includes a mini-lesson, a student work period, time to share and differentiated center activities.  The goal of guided math is to meet students where they are and teach math in their zone of proximal development.  
I liked how this chapter laid out the basics of guided math.  It serves as a good introduction to the big ideas.  I also love the idea of showing the lesson in action and getting a glimpse inside a guided math classroom in the first chapter is an effective way of communicating what it is going to look like.  However, I wished that a different example was given for the mini-lesson.  If you are a regular blog reader, you know how much I work on students developing their own strategies for double digit addition and subtraction and the emphasis I put on teaching kids to think about math rather than just do it.  To me, the mini lesson described in this chapter falls into the teaching kids how to do it category.

My favorite reflection question from the end of the chapter is question #4, how do you promote perseverance in your classroom? This is something I need to work on for this school year.  I feel like perseverance is something that ALL kids need to develop.  Interestingly, I often find that kids who are good at math are the least likely to develop this important skill.  I think guided math can help with this but I want to spend more time developing or finding really good real life math problems for these kids to solve.  
Which reflection question was your favorite?

Chapter 2: Guided Math in a Numerate Environment

I love the emphasis that is place on proving answers and sharing thinking in this chapter.  Dr. Newton says, "Whatever the context, whether you do math workshop or not, the atmosphere should be filled with talking and making mathematical sense.  Students should be ready for that famous phrase "Prove it" or "Show me what you know."  The culture should support reasoning out loud."  This is great advice for any math classroom and any lesson.  Getting kids to talk about math helps them make sense of math and is a great way to check for understanding and clear up misconceptions.  

The idea of home base where your learners can meet to talk math and share learning is great.  I love getting kids out of their seats and on the rug or in front of the white board when we are discussing our math learning.  It gives them a chance to move to another place and be around different people.  It is also the perfect opportunity for the teacher to intentionally place kids in pairs for math talk time and think-pair-share.  I agree with Dr. Newton that kids should talk with the same partner for a while but I usually switch it up once a week or so.  

The elements of math workshop can seem overwhelming if you are used to doing one whole group lesson per day.  Keep in mink that you can do parts and pieces of it at other times of the day as well.  Calendar and number of the day fit nicely into morning meeting time or other small pockets of time in your schedule.  I do like to keep the whole class mini-lesson, the math centers/guided math group and the share/journal time together.  I squeeze math strategy practice and energizers into every available minute of the day and bring them out when kids need them as well as when we have a few minutes of downtime.  

The reflection question from this chapter that I need to think more deeply about is question #3, At the end of your math period, how do you summarize the learning?  Do you ever write a class journal to document the key takeaways?  This question got me thinking because I feel like this is something I don't do enough of.  At the same time, I am packing a lot of math into a little bit of time and am often working with kids who are really far behind and am not sure how much I personally value this step.  I can see the value in it for some learners, but I have never been one of them.  I need to think about what type of learner this benefits the most and find a way to squeeze it into my lessons.  

What are your thoughts on the first two chapters?  What are you favorite reflection questions?  Please respond in the comments below!

See what folks are saying about chapters 3 and 4.


  1. I want to begin by sharing that I saw Dr. Nicki two years ago at a conference in Manchester, NH and it is not an understatement to say she changed my life. I have always loved math, but after seeing her it ignited a passion in me which led to my district creating a Math specialist position for next year. I will be leaving my grade 5 classroom after 13 years and taking on this new exciting challenge! I just saw Dr, Nicki again about a month ago. She is a wealth of knowledge. I took her ideas of guided math and transformed by math lessons this year. My kids and I loved it! I will work this year at introducing gnr idea of Guided math to other educators in my district and do all I can to support them. It is overwhelming thinking of creating the centers that at standards based and differentiated as well. I, too, have struggled with the closure part of my lesson even though as she says you can't skip it. I just find I am I a hurry to get on to the next thing. I have absolutely loved the small group time with each student and can't imagine going back to a whole group lesson again.

    1. I'm sorry...I forgot to sign my entry. I am Ann Elise from Berlin, NH....

    2. Hi Ann Elise,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. What an honor to meet Dr. Newton! It is great that you are able to take on a math specialist position. It is amazing how many teachers and students you will be able to reach! I have been thinking a lot about how I close lessons and am going to make this one of my goals for this year.

  2. I wrote a blog post about this. I am looking forward to chapters 3 & 4 next week!

    -Beach Teacher

    Primary Classrooms are Oceans of Fun

    1. I love the idea of doing the sharing while kids have snack! That could really save some time and help make sure it happens!