Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study - Chapter 8

I am linking up again with Courtney and Sarah for the second to last chapter in the book study on Guided Math in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton. I have learned a lot by rereading this book, answering the discussion questions, and reading other people’s responses.  I am super excited to be implementing guided math this year.  I feel that Chapter 8 is one of the most important chapters in the book because it is all about what the other students are doing when you are working with a guided math group.  We all know that if the rest of the class is not engaged in their activity, you will not be able to give your full attention to the students in your small group.  Another struggle is giving students an activity that they can complete independently (or at least without the teacher’s help), but is still rigorous and worthwhile.  I loved all of Dr. Nicki’s ideas in Chapter 8 about what the other students could be doing.  She believes that students should be working independently, with partners, and in groups during this time.  She also suggests seven must-have centers:
1.Basic Fact
2.Hot Topics Review
4.Word Problem
5.Math Poem
6.Math Journal
7.Math vocabulary
I have used basic facts, hot topics, geometry, word problems, and math journals in my math centers in the past.  I had never considered using poetry in math centers, so this is something I need to look into.  I honestly, don’t usually use much poetry in math.  If anyone has any great resources, please let me know.  My grade level has decided to put a focus on vocabulary this year, so it only makes sense to tie that into math.  I’m not sure what a math vocabulary center will look like in my classroom, so I am looking forward to the first Wednesday Link-Up all about Math Vocabulary.  See the schedule below to link up if you have any great ideas about math centers or if you just want to get some new ideas:

 Now onto this week’s discussion questions:
Question 1: How often do you give students the opportunity to practice on their own, in pairs, and in groups? I have students the opportunity to practice math on their own every day.  This can be their morning math worm-up or math fact practice in writing or on the computers/tablets.  I also have students work in pairs frequently.  These can be homogeneous or heterogeneous groupings. In the partner groups, students play cooperative and competitive games.  They also have opportunities to work together on problem-based tasks and other hands-on activities.   I do not have my students work in groups in math as often as in other subjects, so this will be an aspect to incorporate more this year.  I love Dr. Nicki’s idea for having students work together to solve a word problem by having each student take on a role (reader, number cruncher, checker, etc.) This is definitely something I will be incorporating in my classroom this year. 
Question 2: How do you hold students accountable for the work they are doing? In the past, I have had students complete worksheets and turn in for me to accountability.  I honestly hate making copies of worksheets, so I try to use them as infrequently as possible. This is one reason why I love using math journals.  Not only do I not need to make copies of worksheets, but I can also include more open-ended questions to challenge my students. The math facts centers that I use are often on the computer or tablet.  When my students use programs like XtraMath, the computer sends me email updates to keep up with accountability.  The other math fact activities that I have students complete are laminated or in sheet protectors, so there is nothing to turn in.  When students work in partners or groups, I believe that they keep each other accountable.  Sometimes I include an answer key in a center, so that students can check their work. I think that I may have students reflect on their work in their math journals even if they do not have a worksheet to complete.  This will give me and them something to discuss when I do math conferences.

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