5 Tips for Starting Guided Math in Your Program

Guided Math is one of my FAVOURITE components of my Math Program. Over the last year, I have overhauled my teaching practices in math. I really examined what was working and what wasn't, and decided to embark on a personal journey and inquiry to better my practice. Enter: Guided Math!

When I really looked at my math program, I realized that I did do guided math, but not in a traditional and formal sense like my guided literacy program. I did it more on the fly - without even realizing what I was doing. So, I decided to take what worked well in my reading guided groups, and apply those strategies to my math guided groups.

Over the last year I have really worked at formalizing my guided math, and make it more stream lined and fluid. Here are my 5 Takeaways and Tips for Starting Guided Math:

#1: Get to KNOW your students - You really need to have a handle on your student strengths and areas of needs in order to develop a program that really meets their needs. Start off with an Assessment FOR Learning that helps you to understand what they are already bringing to the table. Then, as you examine your data, look for trends to help you develop your groups.

#2: Map Out the CURRICULUM - The Ontario Math Curriculum is written on a continuum. It is expected that students will still be exposed to previous year expectations in their current program. Case and point - Stem and Leaf plots usually end up on Grade 6 EQAO, although it is mentioned in Grade 4.
So, when you make your math unit (with guided math in mind), map out the curriculum from the previous grades, and even into the next grade. It will help you to identify and bridge any gaps that may come up in your guided groups.

#3 ROUTINE ROUTINE ROUTINE - Make sure that you build a comfortable space for your students with routines heavily emphasized. Make your expectations about what you expect while you are conducting a group very clear for the students in the group, and the students who are not in that current group.  If you don't have clear routines and expectations, then it will be very difficult for your groups to run smoothly.

#4 Focus on PROCESS not PRODUCT - Your assessment needs to be on the process, not the product. You want to focus on providing meaningful feedback to your students to help them move along. Also, you want to take anecdotal notes for assessment, rather than provide an evaluation.

#5 Be FLEXIBLE - At any point you could have a student that has an "ah-ha" moment. Don't get stuck in the groups. If a student needs to move up to another group - make the move. If a student needs extra practice - provide it. If your timelines are running longer than expected - that's ok! Remember, they are end of year expectations, not end of the unit!

So those are my 5 tips! If you are looking for more direction and guidance, please download this FREEBIE on How to Start Guided Math Groups in your Program.

Be sure to leave me a note in the comments.
Have you started Guided Math? 
What are your biggest stumbling blocks? 
What are your successes?
I look forward to hearing from you!

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