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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guided Math: Chapter 7

I'm linking up again with Amanda from The Primary Gal for Chapter 7 of the "Guided Math" book study! This chapter is all about conferring with students, which is something I feel that I need to improve on and do more often.

I have to admit that I used to be on the “old school” side of teaching, when I first started. I would determine my students’ mathematical thinking by looking at their final product. “Yep, he got it”….or “Oh no! He’s got no clue.”

Over the years my teaching style has changed a lot. I went from teaching straight from the textbook, to math centres, to problem based learning and now to guided math. I think that guided math, works well with the centre and problem solving approach to math. It’s the next stepping stone up.

So how do I discover my students’ mathematical thinking? I do it in two ways. I ask them during informal or formal conferences. I also check in with them.

I try to use questions like: “So what have you done so far?” or “What do you know about the problem/question?” Keeping the questions open allows the students to explain their thinking. When students are stuck, I will ask them if there is a strategy or a tool that they could use to help them solve the question/problem. I find sometimes they just need encouragement and to know that it’s okay to try.

Ideally, I like to confer with my students at least 3 times a week. Does it happen? Let’s be realistic, not often. More realistically we are looking at once maybe twice a week, depending on the student.

Here is why… there is a sense of learned helplessness in my classroom sometimes.  Even if, I’m wearing my stop sign students will still come up and ask for help, even though they know that they can’t interrupt.

 However, I sometimes feel that interrupting is better because if they don’t interrupt then they are off task and fooling around.

I sat down with my students last year and we brainstormed a list of stratgies that they can use when they are stuck. Since creating and posting this posters in my classroom, interruptions have decreased dramatically. If a student interrupts, I point to our strategy wall and they know what to do.

The strategies that I use are part of my Problem Solving Strategy Set.

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