Sunday, July 6, 2014

Guided Math Conferences Book Study Chapter 1

How can it already be JULY? This is my first summer since I started teaching (umm...16 years ago) that I am not working/traveling. I struggled that first week of summer trying to figure out what I wanted to accomplish...but now I think I have it down! Coffee first thing, Gym time, Coffee Shop Time, Pool Time, Friend Time! This equals a pretty, darn good summer for me! Loving every minute of it!

Before we jump into our book study for Guided Math Conferences I wanted to give you a little background on my teaching in Guided Math.

A few years ago I started seeing all of these blog posts about Guided Math or Math Workshop. I was intrigued, but didn’t see how to actually do it in my classroom. I received my class list at the end of May for the following school year and when I saw the WIDE RANGE in terms of academics I knew that I was going to have to dig in and try this Guided Math out.

Jodi, from The Clutter-Free Classroom was a life saver to me! She published several blog post about how she managed math workshop. I poured over them. In fact I printed it out, highlighted it, post-it notes every where on it, and made copies for my co-workers. (Jodi now has a wonderful math workshop product in her TPT store that talks about routines within math workshop that is an excellent resource).
 I was very blessed that school year, as I had our Special Education teacher in my room during math workshop time. We were able to team teach the Whole-Group lesson and then she was there to help with the mini-group session! That first year was a lot of trial and error (and it continues to be!)  

My biggest learning that year was in how to plan together so that math time was seamless! We ended up creating a Google docs folder for our lesson planning. This helped us tremendously. The other learning came from realizing that this type of format for teaching math is NOT easy and it takes WAY more work on the teacher’s part, but I know that my kids are doing what THEY NEED TO DO in order to be stronger mathematicians! That makes me SO HAPPY!  This will be my third year using the Guided Math format and I am so excited to share my journey with you this summer through the book study and during the school year!

Now on to our book study! So thankful that Brenda  from Primary Inspired created this book study for the summer! I had read Laney Sammons first book “Guided Math” two years ago,  I am excited to be reading through this one! Here is our schedule!

I know we are suppose to be talking about Chapter 1 today, but I am SO loving a few things from the PREFACE!  First of all this quote…

I love this quote so much! ( SIDE NOTE: I immediately got on Amazon and ordered the book “Visible Learning” by John Hattie. Oh my friends…this is a MUST READ!)

As teachers we “…must see learning through the eyes of our students and students need to see teaching as the key to their ongoing learning.”

I think we get this right when we are teaching reading. I could listen all day long to students talk about their reading experiences! I love hearing “I LOVE THIS BOOK” or “I HATE this book because…” These conversations about books/reading help me to really “see learning” through their eyes! It only makes sense that we have these same type of conversations  about math so that students can showcase what they are learning. I have a feeling we are going to learn a lot interacting with our students in this way. 

Moving on to Chapter 1
Let’s just start with the title of this chapter “Conferring with Young Mathematicians.”  I love it so much when in our classrooms we use words such as “mathematicians” or “scientists”  or “engineers.” AND we use them in talking about our kiddos! What does a mathematician do? S/He works with math! What do our students do work with math! I think this is great power with using this type of vocabulary with our students. We don’t just have FUTURE mathematicians, scientists, engineers in our midst….we have them RIGHT NOW! (Okay I will get off my soapbox!)

I THOUGHT I used math conferences with my students, but as I read through the differences between a math conference and a math interview, I realized that I always gave them a task to do and I always and only used this time as an assessment tool. I love using math interviews with my students, but I am seeing how important the conversation piece is with my students as well.

I think about teaching writing in the classroom, so much of the learning is through the conference time. I learn so much about my kiddos when I conference with them over their writing. I am able to immediately see skill areas that we need to work on, as well as celebrate with them on advancing in their writing.  I am guessing the same will be true about the math conference times. To be able to listen to them explain what they have been doing, why they chose that problem solving tool, and as well to  just have a conversation about math is SO exciting to me.

I am excited to start developing a classroom environment where students are expected to talk to me about their learning not just in reading and writing, but also in math!  I honestly can’t wait! 

Make sure you check out the other bloggers who exploring along with us! We all have SO much to share with each other! As well you are welcome to link up your ideas/thoughts here!
Blessings Friends! 


  1. I agree that we need to start treating our students as mathematicians, not kids just doing math in school. I did love the first chapter and realized that last year I did much more small group instruction rather than individual conferences. I am so happy to be reading this book this summer to get ready for conferring with my students this fall.

    1. That was a huge aha for me as well Sherrie! I have really been trying to figure out how to include BOTH this next year! That will be the challenge for me!
      :) Carmen