Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study: Chapters 1 and 2

Today I am linking up with Courtney and Sarah at their new blog, Adventures in Guided Math. for the book study for Guided Math in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton. Today’s focus is chapters 1 and 2. For a great summary of both chapters, head over to Adventures in Guided Math.
Below you will find my answers to the discussion questions for Chapters 1 and 2.  If you would like to join in the discussion, you can comment below or link up with your own blog post. 

Question 1: After rereading “Stretching Your Own Pedagogy,” it made me reflect on my math instruction.  When I first began teaching, math was a difficult subject for me to teach because it always came easily to me.  My number sense is strong, and I wasn’t sure how to help those students who just didn’t get it the way I was teaching.  I did a lot of reading and research to find multiple ways to teach a concept.  These multiple methods along with my love of math allowed me to become a better math teacher.  “Stretching Your Own Pedagogy” also made me think of how I taught math this past year.  I am a firm believer in guided math groups versus solely whole group instruction, but I was discouraged from using guided math this past year.  As a new teacher to the school, I did not want to make waves, so I used guided math very infrequently.  I did notice that my students were much more engaged and positive about math when I incorporated guided math groups into my lessons.  I was able to differentiate my instruction for each group instead of teaching to the middle during a whole group lesson.  I am determined to use guided math as my main method of math instruction this year.  I know that I will need to thoroughly plan my lessons in order to defend my choice to the math coaches and administrators that may walk through my classroom. 
Question 2: Perseverance in math is such a crucial skill to teach students.  I appreciate that it is one of the Common Core Math Practices, so that we are all required to promote this skill in all grade levels.  It may sound backwards, but I promote perseverance by allowing my students to struggle and sometimes fail at a task the first time.  This is usually something that happens during Problem-Based Tasks (PBTs) that I give to my students at the beginning of a new unit.  When I first started using PBTs, it was challenging for me as a teacher to not give a lot of information in the beginning or tips along the way. However, after doing a couple, I now see the value in allowing students to struggle with a problem and possibly not come up with an answer.  I am teaching at a school that was strictly direct instruction before I moved to the school, so the students are used to being fed information.  This lack of struggle does not allow students to learn problem solving skills or perseverance. As a school, we are slowly moving away from direct instruction and the students are thriving.  My second graders knew that it was okay to not come up with an answer as long as they tried their best.  After giving my students some time to try and solve the PBT, the students shared their work and thinking.  After hearing new perspectives on the problem, they were allowed time to go back and make changes if necessary.  This showed my students that if you persevere and work together, you can succeed.   
I have always been a “math person,” so I think in numbers all day long.  I try to illustrate the idea that numbers are everywhere in my classroom.  Here are some of the ways that I create a numerate environment in my classroom:
-Math Meeting: During these 15 minutes my students and I review and preview math skills.  I use a lot of partner talk during Math Meeting to allow students a chance to talk about the problems and discuss ways to solve them.  Then I call on a student to answer the problem.  I do not just take a number as an answer though, my students have to describe how and why they solved the problem their way.  I will often ask the class to show their agreement or disagreement with the answer or method used.  If a student disagrees, I ask him or her to describe how he or she solved the problem.  I will also ask for another method to solve the same problem. Math Meeting is fast-paced since it is all verbal for the students, so it keeps their engagement high.
-Math Journals: I began to use math journals this year as a way to incorporate writing into math.  I have to admit that I didn’t use them consistently, but it is a focus for this next year. 
-Problem-Based Tasks: As I described above, I use PBTs as a way to introduce new topics and assess my students’ prior knowledge.  This is also a way to promote perseverance.
-Problem of the Day: Most mornings begin with a problem of the day.  My students are asked to pull out the important information, draw a picture, solve the problem, write an equation, and explain how they solved the problem.  We then debrief the problem as a whole class.
-Number of the Day: Other mornings begin with a number of the day.  My students are asked to write the number in word form and expanded form.  They are also drawing it in base ten blocks and proving if the number is even or odd.  I also have my students write the number as money and draw the coins and/or bills.  The final step is mentally adding and subtracting 1, 10, and 100 from the number.  We then debrief the number as a whole class. I love this activity because it reviews so many Common Core standards.  Plus I don't have to make copies of the activity.  I simply make one class set and place them in page protectors.  This allows us to reuse the page everyday with dry erase markers.   Head to my Facebook page to get your own free copy of the Number of the Day forms that I use. There are versions for two-digit and three-digit numbers.

     Don't forget to read the views of the other bloggers who are participating in the book study and contribute your own views about guided math.  Come back on Sunday to discuss Chapters 3&4.


  1. I do number of the day, but I love the idea of doing a problem of the day in a similar format.

    1. It is a great process for students to do daily and learn to do each step independently.

  2. I, too, struggled with teaching math in the beginning for the same reason. I loved math as a kid and it came easily to me, so I had to really work at being able to teach and explain things in different ways. I'm so excited to jump in with guided math this year. I know my kiddos are going to benefit greatly!

    Teaching Little Miracles

    1. It's so strange that our easiest subjects as students often become the hardest for us to teach. I am excited to see how everyone incorporates guided math this year. There will be so many people to collaborate with and learn from.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and where you are now with guided math. Surely the math coach and administration will see how you empower your students and support them as mathematical thinkers--as you said, they are more engaged and positive. Invitations to observe and interact with the kids are always nice. :0) After all, the bottom line is the student. I look forward to reading your future posts!


    1. Thanks for hosting this book study Sarah. I can't wait to read everyone's posts and challenge my thinking.

  4. I love using math journals! I've noticed a huge jump in how my students are able to articulate their thoughts on the procedures they use or how they go about solving the problem.

    The Teaching Crew

    1. My teammate focused on math journals this past year and her students were able to articulate their thinking so much better than my students. This will definitely be a focus for me in the new school year.




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