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Welcome back for my reflection on Chapter 2: "Using Guided Math to Create a Classroom Environment of Numeracy" in Guided Math by Laney Sammons! If you missed my post on Chapter 1, click here to read it.
This chapter was very interesting for me and lends itself very well to reflection. Laney Sammons could have been describing my own classroom in the beginning of this chapter. I strive to create an environment of literacy that is print-rich and encourages a love of reading and writing, but I haven't spent nearly as much time creating an environment of numeracy.
In this chapter, she explains how teachers can establish a mathematical community in their classrooms and create such an environment. Thankfully, Guided Math is set up similarly to Guided Reading, which I am already doing, so the main challenge is finding the time to implement it during the school day.
All seven Foundational Principles of Guided Math are important, but if I have to choose one, I think Principle 6, "Modeling and think-alouds, combined with ample opportunities for guided and then independent problem solving and purposeful conversations, create a learning environment in which students' mathematical understanding grows," is the most important for me. This is something I already do in reading and plan to implement in math as well next year.
I think most teachers would argue that modeling and think-alouds are an integral part of literacy instruction, but we don't always include them in our daily math instruction. It is important for students to be able to "see" what you are thinking and how you can attack various problems using a wide range of strategies. They need to know that there is more than one way to come to the correct solution.
It is also vastly important to gradually release responsibility to the students through guided practice and then independent work, allowing for thoughtful conversations and questions along the way. I have done this to an extent but need to find more time for those "purposeful conversations" next year. Laney Sammons emphasizes the importance of giving students time to discuss their thinking and to make learning a social experience.
I hope my students believe they are members of a mathematical learning community! I strive to maintain high expectations for all of my students, and they all know I expect them to engage in their learning and participate in the discussions. I use dry erase boards in math daily as formative assessments to gauge their understanding of skills and standards. They record the problem and their answer on their dry erase board and flip it over on their desk when they're finished. When I see that most of the class has finished, I ask them to hold up their boards. This ensures all students are participating and allows me to see the range of understanding in the room. They also see that I value their thoughts as I ask how they solved their problems and to describe their thinking to me. I then write the different solutions on my Promethean board to model various ways to solve the problem.
I do have students who seem to be afraid of making a mistake and do not feel like they can contribute as much as some of the other students, so they let the others answer and participate for them. This is an area in which I hope to improve next year. Some days time is limited, so I end up focusing on "getting it all in" rather than taking more time to create the kind of classroom community that Laney Sammons describes in this chapter. I want all of my students to understand that they can learn from their mistakes, and they shouldn't be afraid to take risks in their thinking and share them with the class. I also want to be more of a "model, facilitator, and co-learner" in the future (p. 38).
The rest of the chapter includes directions for setting up a classroom conducive to Guided Math. Classrooms should include a whole-group and small-group area, and a math workshop area where students can work independently. Class-made anchor charts, a math word wall, and problems of the day/week should be displayed. Teachers should also organize manipulatives and tools for measurement and store them in a location where students can access them easily. Students should have math journals, which include graphic organizers to help them make connections and visualize relationships and patterns. I love, love, love that she states that numeracy-rich environments also include math-related children's literature. Trade books make everything better, even in math! It is important to make those cross-curricular connections that can help strengthen students' understanding of the math concepts they are learning.
I hope you are enjoying this book study as much as I am! Be sure to enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate for Really Good Stuff! And check back here next week for Chapter 3! :)