Sunday, July 27, 2014

Guided Math in Action ~ Chapter 6: Framework for Guided Math Lessons

Planning. Planning. Planning. In order to maximize learning during guided math, it is important to constantly monitor data and performance of students.

The key takeaway for me was right on pg 69 when Dr. Nicki Newton talks about teaching at the concrete, representational, and abstract levels. I have written about the C-R-A sequence of instruction in a previous post. Click the image to read that post.

When I plan for instruction whether I am working with elementary or middle school students, C-R-A has become a habit of mind. Sometimes it is a challenge, but it is definitely exciting to see the progression of learning by students.

The chapter goes on to talk about the framework for guided math lessons. The key components include:
  • mini-lesson
  • student practice
  • share time 
One thing I have found is keeping mini-lessons mini. Dr. Nicki Newton outlines that in presenting a mini-lesson you should (pg 70-72):
  • hook the students into the lesson
  • explain the focus of the lesson
  • present specific learning expectations 
  • model/demonstrate 
  • check for understanding.
 That is a lot . . . which goes back to the need to plan carefully and thoroughly. 

Student Practice:
This is the exciting part of the lesson for me. I get to interact and have math conversations with my students. One key component of this time is to ask effective questions that foster student thinking. It is a time to observe students in the moment and really get a front-and-center perspective on how they are engaging with the math. It is a time to record observations that can help drive future instruction. This time never seems like it is enough time!

Share Time:
This is the time when synthesis of the lesson occurs. It also is the time that I have to consciously ensure happens before the end of math class. The debrief is so important for student learning. It brings everyone back together to restate the goal or focus.

Dr. Newton recommends having some sort of planning sheet. To be honest, I have not found a planning sheet that works for me. I have found in the past when I have used a template, my planning becomes too contrived and I feel like I am just filling in the template because I am suppose to. I do have a checklist of points to keep in mind, and I plan from there.

It is one thing to plan a great lesson, it is another to spend time reflecting on the lesson. I really like the questions mentioned on pg 76 to help keep a pulse on how students are progressing.
  • Are students learning and independently applying the concepts, strategies, and skills?
  • Do students transfer the learning to their daily/independent work?
  • Are students developing fluency and flexibility of numbers and thinking?
  • Are students able to explain and model their thinking?
I think Dr. Newton sums it up best when she states, "Guided math lessons follow a particular protocol. You just don't pull some students together and work with them randomly (75)." On the teacher's part, guided math lessons take planning, forethought, and using best practices for teaching.  On the student's part, guided math lessons allow for active engagement where exploration, conversation, questions, and demonstration of understanding occurs.

Hope to have you back on Wednesday, July 30, for a discussion on building mathematical proficiency!

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  1. That's an interesting point that using a template will cause your planning to be too contrived. What does your checklist look like? Reflecting on the guided math lesson is definitely a step I need to focus on this year. I was at a new school, new grade, new curriculum, and never felt like I had a chance to step back and reflect. I know that it will improve my teaching when I take that next step.
    The Traveling Teacher

  2. My plans seem to be more narrative style. There are sections for a mini-lesson and follow up lessons. The checklist includes CCSS for that unit and SMPs. Then it lists ideas similar to ideas listed on the planning sheet on pg 72: Hook, Essential Question, I Can...Statements, Model, GP (Guided Practice), IP (Independent Practice), Closure. I haven't found an actual template that works for me...for some reason boxes are too restrictive. Weird, right?! :)

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your previous post--important stuff! I shared your "Need a Hand?" idea on our blog for Five for Friday last week. I am in the process of making some hands and eagerly awaiting generating ways to get unstuck with my kids once school starts--such a great idea--I have limited wall space to display things, so the kids can easily grab a set of hands from our math area and use them as needed during independent work time! :0)


  4. Yeah! So happy to hear this! I really think it helps to make them more independent...especially when I ask them which three they tried before asking me :)!