__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.

__REVIEW AND REFLECT__
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 time…so 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.

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