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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guided Math Conferences: Chapter 2

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Conferring with Young Mathematicians

 Guided Math Conferences
Chapter Overview
Laney Sammons notes that small class sizes are important.  Conferences have been done in reading for a long time and since they provide a glimpse into student thinking—it is (should be) “the heart and soul of teaching.”  We have thoughtful literacy; we should also have thoughtful numeracy.  This means that our math conferences have a purpose and a predictable structures, discover the lines of thinking use by the student, both teacher and student have conversational roles, and the student knows that the teacher cares about him/her as a mathematician. Guided math conferences are 1:1 conversations where teacher and student sit side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder.    
Chapter one describes three different components in guided math: guided math conferences, math interviews, and small-group instruction.  Figure 1.1 provides a comparison of the three, but the biggest take–away is that conferences provide very-specific and immediate feedback, while math interviews are basically an assessment to inform instruction for that individual student.  Chapter one also provides snapshots (examples) of each, so we can more clearly see the differences in the purpose of each.  Figure 1.2 provides an overview of the structure of the guided math conference: research, decide, teach, link.

1.       How often are you able to engage your students in one-on-one conversations about their mathematical thinking? Honestly, I rarely could engage my students in one-on-one conversations about their mathematical thinking because I always found myself fixing technology problems and meeting with my guided groups.  I had 5-6 guided math groups in each section of math I taught.  In order to meet with each group daily during my 75-minute math period, conferring (not yet a required piece of our newly adopted math workshop framework) was what I didn’t know much about, so it got left out.  This year I will be teaching only one section of math and with the support of at least one other teacher, so I know that students will be met with at least once a week.  When I taught in a S.A.G.E. classroom a few years ago, I met with each student every other day for conferring and daily (or as planned) for guided groups.  Small class sizes make a difference!

2.       What do you think is the most important benefit of math conferences?  What are the greatest hurdles to implementing math conferences in your classroom?  How could you overcome these hurdles? The most important benefit of math conferences is getting a glimpse of student thinking and allowing a student to explain his/herself.  I have noticed that students know more than they can explain or often they are misguided in one piece of their thinking and that “ruins” their outcome.  I have been trying to create rubrics that include the process and not only the final answer, in order to take into account their mathematical thinking and give credit for what they DO know.  The greatest hurdles are mentioned above. 
       Any suggestions on how to get through 30 individual conferences, six guided groups (per day?) between the mini-lesson and share timeso about 45-50 minute daily time period?  All suggestions are welcome!!!

3.       Think of a student in your class who is struggling with a mathematical concept or skill.  What would you like to know about his or her mathematical thinking?  What questions would you ask if you decide to confer with this student? I had a student who had a hard time multiplying this year.  She understood arrays and equal groups; when it came time for the equation or a word problem that required multiplication, it just didn’t work out for her.  I would like to know what strategies she is using and how she goes about solving the problem.  Does she look for key words?  Does she even read the whole problem?  If she draws a picture, what is it and why did she draw it?  I would ask her to show me evidence, i.e.: what in the problem made you think you should add x+y to find the answer?  I would love to see where her confusion was, especially since she was fairly fluent with her basic addition and subtraction facts.

Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

Chapter One: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

Book Study Link Up
Click on the picture to link up
The chapter starts out presenting interesting statistics about the amount of time spent reading in class and it’s correlation to percentile rankings  on standardized teststhe most interesting one to me was that those scoring in the 98% read approximately 65 minutes per day.  Then, Donalyn Miller goes on to discuss three important ideas within this dedicated reading time: community conversations, conferring points, and keeping track of you reading life.
Donalyn explain reading on the edge as finding edge time, or spare time, where you can grab a few minutes at a time to read.  She tries to eliminate the excuse of not having time by helping students find edge time where they can sneak in a few minutes of reading here and there throughout their daily schedule.  For example, students can read on the way to dance or football practice or while riding the bus home.  She goes on to emphasize how everyone should always have a book on hand in case of a reading emergency, like being stuck in traffic or at the doctor.  There are always moments to read if you look for them.  Then, there is binge reading in which you just sit down to read and can’t but the book down.  The last time I did that for pleasure was after finding out about the Twilight series from a student who “didn’t line reading” was reading this huge book and he was so into it.  Students’ interests matter and that is where the reading itinerary fits in.  Students keep track of where they read, and what they read, in order to figure out there preferences and the most effective place for them to read.  However, when asked, students needed quiet for the most successful reading time.
Next, Donalyn went on to describe conferring points for students who are fake read or avoid reading all together.  Six signs of reading avoidance behavior are: (s)he reads too few or too many books in a given time period, frequently abandons books, plans personal errands during their independent reading time, fidgets or talks a lot, rarely has a book to read, and/or possibly ACTS like/mimics wild reader behavior.  The author talks about how she notes these behaviors from a distance and confers individually with this student about this behavior and tries to remedy the avoidance behavior after she does a formal independent reading observation.  This reading observation occurs over a period of several days at different times during the independent reading time. 
Purchase on AmazonChapter One concludes with keeping track of your reading using response letters (which is a continuance from the first book The Book Whisperer) and a status of the class update which I liked because it is an accountability piece that fits perfectly into the workshop model. 

Not that I haven’t done it this way, but I loved her approach to avoidance behaviors. 
1. Observe and take notes
2. Individual conference with the student (with evidence in hand) to figure out why the student is avoiding the task
3. Remedy the situation.
4. Monitor progress.

I have yet to figure this out.  A lot of this sounded wonderful for the third grade class I had this past school year, but next year I will be in kindergarten.  I will do a kind of Status of the Class and I will be on the lookout for avoidance behaviors.

I want to think more about the introduction of edge time and reading emergencies.  If these are meant to be lifelong habits, shouldn’t we start building a love of learning young?  But, is kindergarten too young for topics like edge time and reading emergencies?

P.S. - If you haven’t read the introduction, READ IT!  I found it extremely helpfulso helpful I went out and got The Book Whisperer for more great ideas.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Math workshop

My math workshop works like this:

I had an approximately 10 minute long mini-lesson, 10 minute share time, and that means between 40-60 minutes for independent practice and pulling guided groups.

During this time, students would work independently on the topic from the mini-lesson, use technology, or expand on previous topics using board games or file folder games and activities created from TPT resources.
  • Technology is spent using xTra Math and iXL.  xTra Math is a free program that provides students basic math fact practice.  It has students race the teacher and provides them feedback if they take longer than a few seconds to answer the problem.  iXL has a variety of topics for students to practice based on topics, such as addition, multiplication, time, measurement, etc.
During this student-guided work time, I pull small (guided) groups based on their performance on the pre-test.  For example, with two-step problems Joey could draw a picture to match the problem, but can't follow through when it comes to the equation and solving the problem.  Johnny writes some numbers from the problem and just adds or subtracts them with no real rhyme or reason.  Jill has the picture that shows the correct answer, but counts wrong because she chose to count one by one rather than multiplying or using her arrays to solve the problem.  Janet solves the problem and explains how she found her answer.  As I review all of the students' work, I notice several students exhibiting similar use of strategies, or similar needs.  Then, I create groups based off the students' needs.  Look up the analyzing student work tool.  It is awesome for reflecting on what differentiation is necessary for moving students to the next level!  See the sample format here to see how you might use this tool.  

If there are enough requests, I can explain in further detail how I use this tool. 

Guided Math Conferences

One area that I haven't quite figured out how to fit into the math workshop, while managing flaws in technology and such are independent student conferences, outside of the guided group time and table.  I am hoping the blog book study of will help me with that,  See you at the book study starting June 19th.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Meet Me

TTT Summer Bloggin Week 02-22

It's time to meet me!  I promise I am going to try to blog more often.  My name is Amanda, and here is a little bit about me:

If we have anything in common, get in touch; you know where to find me.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tooth Fairy Classroom Kit

Dual Language Tooth Fairy Classroom Kit

Today only!  My Dual Language Tooth Fairy Classroom Kit is 50% off!  Click the picture to be taken there.