Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Guided Math

First, sorry I've been MIA for so long (again). It's hard to blog about things I want to do and make when I'm in a position that doesn't really feel "mine". It's hard to be motivated. I hope to be around and able to blog more often once my reports are done for the end of the year and have a new job that I can tell you about for next year! Please keep your fingers crossed for me and send good thoughts to the administrators that I would like to hire me!

On to the good stuff:

I've promised (and have been meaning for a while) to blog about Math and what it looked like in my 5/6 classroom. This year I did a lot of reading, both online and in different resources, about Guided Math. I've taught combined grade classes before and knew that I didn't want to do the "okay, grade 5's, you work on this worksheet, and don't bother me or ask questions because I have to work with the grade 6's" route. That just doesn't make sense to me, and doesn't seem like best practices for my students.

At the same time, I also knew that I couldn't completely re-invent the curriculum. (If you didn't know, I was hired for this position 3 days before the start of school. Panic Time)! So I made the choice to continue to use the school's math program/textbook Math Makes Sense and build it into my math groups.

My math groups had four components: Work with Teacher, Paper and Pencil, Basic Facts (and Manipulatives), and Games. Here's a brief description:
1) Work with Teacher: This is where my lessons would happen. I would teach the skill that we were working on, and we would do some practicing and have time to ask questions. I also made sure that my 'low' group would always start a new skill with me at this station before they had to do any independent work. Then they would go directly to
2) Paper and Pencil: This is where students would work on their textbook pages or extra practice sheets to practice the skill. My high group would start here, because they were generally independent. My other groups would go here after working with me so that the lesson was fresh in their minds.
3)Basic Facts: This group was usually different games or activities to help students with automaticity of basic facts. This mostly included different card or dice games, it would not necessarily relate to the current topic, but was more a practice for things in the "number" strand of math that underlies the rest of the math curriculum.
4)Games: At the beginning, this station was based on different math themed board games. The pitfall of this was that these games were usually difficult for the studentss to understand independently, and they weren't always on task. As I was able to collect more games that went with the curricular outcomes, I switched these in with a few of the board games that I had to pre-teach so that the students could be successful.

We had to work really hard at expectations and making sure to realize how loud the groups were being while others were working. When I do it again, I would like to start off a lot like you do in Daily 5. Build those expectations together and slowly building our "stamina" or the amount of time that we spend in each group.

I hope that helps you picture things! Any questions, let me know in the comments!


  1. Dawn, this guided math post intrigues me. I've read about similar systems before, and have even done some similar things before as well (especially in my Grade 1/2 class), but I always worried about getting in enough problem solving time. The students always got lots of time to work on their facts, but not on communication in math. I know that this happens in the guided groups, but what about the individual practice time? How are you balancing this in the classroom? I'd love to hear more!


    1. Hi Aviva,

      Look for a new post this weekend. Thanks for the comment.