Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study -- Chapter 5

Today we are here to discuss Chapter 5 from Dr. Nicki's Guided Math in Action book. We are only discussing one chapter today, and what a great chapter it is!

Question 1: What types of pre-assessments do you use? What new ideas have you gathered from this chapter? 

I have struggled for YEARS trying to come up with an effective way to pre-assess my students math skills in the same manner I pre-assess their reading skills. In reading, I complete a running record on each student individually. I also have a little "chat" with them about reading (likes, dislikes, what they remember from first grade, etc). But when it came to math, I would give paper and pencil pre-assessments on the unit we were going to study, but in reality, the majority wouldn't do well because WE HAVEN'T LEARNED THE MATERIAL YET! I have given pre-assessments on first grade standards, which gave me a good idea of my struggling mathematicians.

I could never find a way to do the same with math....until now! Dr. Nicki has opened my eyes and the answer is so simple, do the same thing I do with reading, but only relate it to math!  I loved how she talks about having the interviews with the students and giving a little survey. Kids eat up their individual time with me and this is something I can do when beginning a new unit.
I could relate a lot of what Dr. Nicki was saying in this chapter because it is how I assess and comprehend the individual understandings of all my students when it comes to reading. My notes I take would fit right in with the sticky note sheets Sarah made....I love it when things come together for me!

Question 2: What types on on-going assessments do you use? What new ideas have you gathered from the book?

I feel the most powerful assessments any teacher can use is teacher observations and conversations with students. I use my time during guided math groups to write what I observe and the discussions we have. These observations will then lead to my next day's lesson. It's hard for me to plan out a week of guided math groups (or reading groups for that matter) lesson plans because I go off of what we have done previously. There are times that my whole time with a group is pure discussion. Dr. Nicki said, "Small-group work is the perfect time to push on mathematical thinking so that you can build adaptive reasoning" (p. 58).

I am also one that likes a formal checklist, or graphic organizer for on-going assessments. Dr. Nicki has great examples of some in her book. 

Two things to work on:
  • Observing the students when they are not in a group. Whether doing workstations, journals, or fact practice games, observing them in other settings will give me more information on their mathematical thinking.
  • Keep anecdotal notes short and to the point....I tend to write too much!

Question 3: What types of summative assessments do you use?  What new ideas have you gathered from this chapter?

I have to honest here.....the only reason I really give a summative assessment is to get a grade.  I usually will use a test from our math program, make one up myself, or get some great assessment Sarah has made (which is always much better than what I make:). I hate feeling this way, but it's the truth. Dr. Nicki does make me feel better by saying we must use information from these assessments to make sure students are learning (I also like that she calls them "Evaluative Assessments").

I want to set goals with the students like Dr. Nicki mentions on p. 63. She says, "Students shouldn't be on a mystery train. If they know where they are going, they have a much better chance of getting there." WOW...POWERFUL!

Another goal of mine is to use student portfolios. I know how wonderful they can be for students, parents, and myself, but have failed over the years with keeping up.

I believe all three assessments are essential in all classrooms, and not just with math. Knowing our students strengths, weaknesses, and interests can make us more effective educators. They also allow a so called map into what we need to do to ensure all our students are learning!

AND, if you have not already heard the FABULOUS news...

To our surprise, Dr. Nicki recently contacted us to offer her help with the book study in any way.  She will be doing some Q & As right here!!

As of this Wednesday, we will be over half-way through our book study, so this is a great time to ask questions that have popped into your head while reading or following along on our blog.  Dr. Nicki has generously agreed to do a second Q & A at the end of the book study as well--SO start keeping track of those burning questions!

Here's how the Q & A will work:

  1. Send your questions to us at www.guidedmathadventures@gmail.com.
  2. We will pass your questions on to Dr. Nicki.
  3. She will do her best to answer your questions in an upcoming post.

We will be taking questions for Dr. Nick's first Q & A through Wednesday, July 23, so don't delay--Get your questions in! How about some questions about assessment--a big topic??

A big THANK YOU goes out to Dr. Nicki!

We will see you back here on Sunday for Chapter 6, BUT you may want to stop back this Friday to find out about a wonderful giveaway! That is--if you like giveaways!! You can also read past book study posts by clicking HERE!


  1. I enjoyed your thoughts and your honesty. I had to admit some 'failures' in my math assessment plan as well (my post will be up tomorrow). I think when we are honest about our shortcomings, we have the most opportunity for growth. I'm so excited about how my math instruction will change for the better this year!

    Teaching Little Miracles

  2. I, too, have struggled with finding an effective way to pre-assess students in math at the beginning of the year. This year I am going to do one-on-one math interviews with students where they will solve questions and explain their thinking. I hope this gives me the information I've been lacking.
    The Traveling Teacher