Sunday, July 20, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Club: Chapter 3 & 4

I know I'm late hooking up to the Book Club, and I promise I had good reason... more on that in another exciting post! I've had a ton of awesome learning experiences this weekend. Can't wait to share them all with you!

Chapter 3

Let's just say I gave my highlighter a healthy workout in this chapter! I loved the entire thing. Setting up procedures to make the workshop model and guided math groups is such a crucial part of making this work in a classroom.

  • Procedures should be clear, explicit, and simple to follow. There should be 3-5 procedures that the students and they need to be accountable. Signing their names to the procedures, gives them ownership.
  • Consequences should be fair and consistent. If you see a group off-task, it should be addressed right away so that you can create more on-task students.
  • Rewards should be earned, but never given away.
I really liked that Dr. Nicki highlighted that the first 4 weeks should be focused on setting up the procedures and routines. This is such an important step for teachers to see, and knowing that it will take time for your students to fully grasp the routine of math workshop. 
  • Use role playing activities to establish workshop norms and behaviors.
  • Students should know their role in every aspect of the workshop, where they go, how they act, what's expected of them while they are in that station.
  • Students should learn their norms for when they are working alone, with a partner, or in a group.
  • Never give the students a center that they haven't already seen.
Create anchor charts to highlight the important questions:
  • What do good mathematicians do?
  • How can students prove their thinking?
  • What can students say when they are talking about math?

Do I have a teacher toolkit? If so, what's in it?
My tool kit is a "half-full" situation. I have a lot of my resources there, but I definitely need to add manipulatives to give myself easier access. I usually pull things when I know it's critical to the lesson, but I don't necessarily keep them around all the time.  My work area has all of my pencils, pens, scissors, post-its, glue, crayon, colored pencils, journals... 

Do my students have toolkits? If so, what's in them?
My students do have toolkits which include all their school supplies, math journals, foldables, vocabulary... They have plastic tubs to house their tools as well as cubbies.

How do I establish routines/expectations?
I always start the beginning of the year by setting up class procedures and expectations. I generate these procedures with my class, so they have a hand in what they know makes a classroom work well. I also put in a place the "ask 3, then me" procedure so my students learn to use each other as resources rather than waiting around to ask me. I really liked Dr. Nicki's suggestion that during workshop the team leader knows not to approach the teacher until rotation time, unless it's a huge emergency. What a relief that will be!

Chapter 4

Forming Groups:
  • Groups should be flexible.
  • Groups are based on a variety of assessments... surveys, quizzes, interview, math running records, and anecdotal observations.
  • When a student achieves particular knowledge and skills, they can be moved to a new group.
  • 4 groups are recommended- (1) novice learners, (2) apprentice learners, (3) practitioners, and (4) expert learners
Guided Math Schedule
  • Teachers need to decide how many groups they will see each day..
  • This is a factor based on time allotment and personal schedule.
  • Remember, guided math sessions should be 15 minutes
As chapter 4 came to a close, I was struck by this quote, "You have to create a system that you will use. You have to commit to using it. You need to know who's on first, and how they are going to get to second, and how on earth everyone will make it to home base (grade level) by the end of the year." (Dr. Nicki Newton, pg. 45). As a teacher, you need to decide the schedule that works best for you and your classroom based on your time constraints. 

Do I meet with students in small math groups?
I do not regularly meet with students in small groups. Usually after I've introduced a topic or skill I work with individuals who need additional help or to see it in another way. I check in on those who are moving smoothly through their classwork. 

What kinds of records do I keep?
My students have journals that they use to take notes, learn vocabulary, keep tools, explain ideas... and it's a great way to keep track of their understanding. I also have them do a self evaluation during each lesson. In the top corner of their journal they color a dot. Green means the student feels confident and successful with the new topic. Yellow means the student is doing okay with the new topic, but needs more practice to be sure if they fully understand. Red means they are confused, not sure or confident in the new idea. It's a great visual, and it lets me know very quickly how they feel about their current learning.


  1. I am excited to read about your new learning experiences! :0) Love how you use self-evaluation with your journals--your color-coding system. Something for me to think about... Thanks so much for sharing!


  2. I like your idea of having students color code the corners of their journals as a way to self-assess. Sometimes, I would use green, yellow, and red mini baskets, and students would place an index card in the basket as an exit ticket based on their comfort level with the material. Having students self-assess in their journal is a great record keeping piece to monitor trends and patterns over time. Thanks for the idea!

  3. I love your color coding system! I just might have to try that! ;-)

    Teaching Little Miracles