Saturday, July 26, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study -- Chapter 6

Chapter 6 was a short one, but with lots of information. This is a great chapter for anyone just beginning guided math or needing a little tune up.

Dr. Nicki outlines a framework for guided math lessons:

Presenting the Mini-Lesson
  • Hook students--make a connection to past, present, or future learning.
  • The focus of the lesson is clearly stated (concept, strategy, skill).
  • The teacher models/demonstrates and checks for understanding while doing so.
  • May include practicing what is modeled/demonstrated with the group.

**Student Practice
  • Students practice the concept, strategy, or skill on their own and explain their thinking to the group.
  • Scaffolding discussions take place. 
  • The teacher asks specific questions to facilitate mathematical thinking.
  • Students work independently and the teacher provides interventions to individual students.
  • The teacher may take anecdotal records.

**Games and manipulatives can be used to model/practice the concept, strategy, or skill.

I play games in my guided math groups as much as possible. I have found that my students seem much more engaged when they are playing a game. Even the mention of the word "game" seems to make them perk up a little more in their seats.  I have done groups with worksheets and pages from our math program during this time, but feel that the students do not get a lot of opportunities to really express their mathematical thinking because they are so worried about being wrong on the paper.

I love to play games that involve dice and playing cards mostly because these are materials that are inexpensive and many students have them at home (if they don't, I buy some at the Dollar Tree and send them home).

Here are just some of the great resources I have purchased on TPT that I use in my own classroom...

There are so many more games out there, too! Many times I will just "google" cards games for (insert CCSS standard/skill/unit), and I get lots of hits:)
I am also fortunate that several years ago I wrote a grant and purchased some board games specially for math concepts. While many have seen better days, the kids are using their math thinking skills to play.

Playing games allows me to really observe the students. Usually I will introduce the game on day 1, review it and play with them on day 2, and by day 3 they are playing with one another and I can make my observations.

Share Time
  • Students are brought back together to debrief the lesson. 
  • The teacher asks probing questions.
  • Students are asked to summarize.
  • The teacher reviews teaching points and checks for misunderstandings.
  • The teacher previews math center or homework that will follow.

A guided math lesson, with all of the components described above, is shared (p 72-75). Each component of a guided math lesson is clearly labeled for the reader.

Dr. Nicki also stresses the importance of evaluating each lesson through reflection.  See page 76 for specific questions to ask yourself about student engagement.

Question 1: Do you use guided math lesson templates? If so, what do they look like? How detailed?

This is something I have struggled with for years!! I like a nice, simple formatted planning template, but I HATE writing lessons for my overall week, my guided reading plans, and my guided math's too much!!

I saw this idea on Pinterest and it came from First Grade Nest.


I liked how simple it was and all I had to do was use sticky notes! I only have four groups that I see daily, so mine is modified.  If you want a copy of my template, you can get it here.

Dr. Nicki has some other great templates in this chapter that I may be experimenting with too. :)

Question 2: How do you teach specific concepts at a concrete, pictorial, and then abstract level?

When first introducing a concept I do what most teachers do...use manipulatives! I love base ten blocks, linking cubes, coins (real or fake), pattern blocks, geometric shapes, clocks, and the list goes on and on! I feel it is important at this young age for students to have that hands-on experience so that they can have a deeper understanding of how numbers and equations can be put together and taken apart. There are also several computer programs, websites, and apps that are available for students to use these tools digitally.

I then love to show my students how they can draw the manipulatives. I think this important because students don't have access to the tools we use in school at home, but they can use drawings to help them problem solve. This skill can also carry over not only at home, but anywhere students need to solve a math situation...even with those lovely standardized tests.  I see my students use their scratch paper and pencils, when test taking, to help them problem makes my heart so happy!

Some students have to have more exposure to the math tools in order to fully understand the mathematical skill, and then there are some students that can think abstractly a little sooner. This is another great thing about guided math groups. The group that needs that extra practice is able to spend time with the teacher manipulating math tools, and those at other mathematical levels can take that thinking and move on to more real life problem solving situations.

Now it's time to enter a fabulous giveaway! It's a Dr. Nicki Newton, Problem Solving with Models, giveaway! Click here to check out these awesome resources! The lucky winner will get to pick the grade level resource that best fits him/her.  We will be randomly drawing the winner next Sunday, August 3... Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Stop back Wednesday for our discussion of chapter 7!  You can also read past book study posts by clicking HERE!


  1. I never thought to search for card games by CCSS. That is a great idea. I actually have some of the other resources you mentioned from TPT, so I guess I have a few resources ready.

  2. I love using a wide variety of manipulatives (both hands-on and on the computer) with my students, too. It really helps them grasp the skills and concepts quicker. This summer I found a great math resource book, "Math Games for Independent Practice- Games to Support Math Workshops and More" by Jamee Peterson, that has a lot of easy to make math games that support CCSS. It's helping me get prepped for the coming school year.

  3. I hope you don't mind me posting a link, but your mentioning of dice reminded me of a post I wrote on my own blog. Dice are so important to have in math and a great option for purchasing a lot of them is I was able to get a ton (okay, a pound) of dice for a fairly small price by getting them online. Here is a link with more information and some pictures of what came in the package. It was a really great resource.

  4. I just purchased Dealing with Math Homework and got it all ready for the year. I'm excited about using during our math time (AND as homework option)! This was a helpful chapter for me---new to guided math. I came up with a lesson plan template that I will try to use and shared on my post. Like you, I'm worried that it will be a lot to keep up with, but I know I need to be more purposeful with my groups!

    Teaching Little Miracles

  5. My students perk up when they hear the word "game" too. I use dice, dominoes, and cards as much as possible in my classroom. I am planning to use the Dealing with Math Homework in class and as a homework option this year. I am so excited to get the families involved in what we are learning about in math.
    The Traveling Teacher

  6. I find the planning portion frustrating as well and have tried many different formats. Thanks for this idea.

  7. I'm moving from teaching 5th grade math (2 years) to kindergarten. I'm so excited, but also so nervous!!! One of my biggest frustrations teaching 5th grade was that I had about 1/3 of my students come to 5th grade unable to add and subtract! (Our students are about 95% free lunch and most parents are unable or unwilling to help their children) ...Makes it pretty hard to teach them 5th grade standards!!!! I'm hoping to be able to get (and keep) my students excited about learning. I think guided math is a great way to do this. I hope it will engage the families also.

  8. Always learn something new when I come by to read your posts here at Adventures in Guided Math. I love the sticky note idea for planning. I, myself, find templates too confining. I think the sticky note idea will work well with my narrative style of lesson planning. Keeping it simple can be a beautiful thing! Thanks for the ideas!!

  9. I am so excited to have found your blog! I am working on implementing Guided Math this year and I have been trying to think of ways to plan, organize and create to get this thing rollin'! After reading this post I can tell that I may have already been over thinking my planning methods…whoops! The sticky notes are an amazing idea! I can't wait to come back and learn more!

  10. Thank-you for your insights into Guided Math. It is helpful to see how it would work in a classroom.