Guided Math, math

Guided Math: #1

I first heard of guided math too long ago to have a story to go with it.

I have resisted this classroom management strategy in all it’s forms.  Like guided reading, there is a lot of “behind the scenes” organizing that has to take place.  In reality, I felt like have done a fine job of differentiating the work we do in math class, so this strategy for further differentiating has seemed very overwhelming to me.  I’m already teaching 2 grades, so there is a multitude of curriculum expectations that I need to be looking at (sometimes they criss-cross, but not always) and then there is the range of differences in ability that needs to be covered.

I use Writer’s Workshop, and mostly Reader’s Workshop/Guided Reading.  I don’t do centres or stations in literacy  because I want my students to have authentic reading and writing opportunities.  And I want to be available to work with them, not managing the “job’s board” or the Station Rotation. This prejudice has also stopped me for doing guided math. I can only be in one place at a time, right? I tried Daily 5 a few different years and always felt like it was going to push me over the edge into a yawning, black abyss.

But….suddenly the idea of guided math seems to be haunting my subconscious.  I keep hearing about it.  Last year the range of ability in my classroom was especially wide, and this year it’s even bigger.  And I am not talking about the few outliers that are always at either end.  I’m talking about a full range and it’s WIDE!

In the collaborative inquiry I have been participating in, guided math keeps coming up.  All my usual reasons have been checked off my list every time we have talked about it:  I am not doing it because it is:

a) overwhelming

b) hard work

c) a time sucker

d) all of the above.

Except…for the second year in a row I am sort of realizing that even without doing guided math, I am feeling overwhelmed, and over worked and out of time.  I’ve started to consider that guided math might be a solution to some problems, instead of something that will exacerbate the problem.

So this week I am trying it.  Not for just one day, but for the whole week. I’m going to report back on Friday.  We did some GM on Monday, and I will reluctantly admit it was ok. And I have started to think about not needing 40 different games and activities to use during “stations” (or whatever I decide to call them) and maybe only needing a few that we can circle back to throughout the year.

That’s where I am with it right now.  And it helps that a few other people in my building are trying it out and talking about how it will look and how we can make it work and how we can support each other. I think the reason the literacy stuff is so successful is because we have so many similar management systems in place throughout the school.  Maybe this could happen in math too.

I’ll be back on Friday with a report on the week.

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