Thursday, June 5, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 2

Chapter 2 was all about setting up a classroom environment that is rich with mathematical content. This chapter really sends home the message of organization and planning. It reminds me of the quote "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Set yourself ( and your students) up for mathematical success by applying a few organizational and planning tips from the start.

I found this chapter to have four main sections.

The first section discussed the foundational principles of Guided Math.
1. All students can learn mathematics. Isn't this just a wonderful phrase? So often we hear adults saying phrases like "I wasn't good at math either,"--- as though number sense is gene passed down from generation to generation! This statement is powerful. With hard work, determination, and effort, everyone can succeed.

2. A numeracy-rich environment promotes mathematical learning by students. Math isn't just a subject we teach from 10-11 AM every day. Math is all around us. When we create a math-rich environment, students begin to see how math connects to their everyday lives.

3. Learning at its best is a social process. We've got to allow our students an opportunity to discuss and learn from one another. We're doing them a huge disservice we we aren't.

4. Learning mathematics is a constructive process. Number sense is a process- it isn't something that happens overnight. Students need time to make connections, find patterns, and link prior understandings to new concepts.

5. An organized classroom environment supports the learning process.  An organized classroom will set your students up for success. Create routines, schedules, and procedures that are efficient and productive.

6. Modeling and think-alouds, combined with ample opportunities for guided and then independent problem solving and purposeful conversations, create a learning environment in which students' mathematical understanding grows.  A risk-free environment that allows students to express ideas and learn from others can be an incredibly powerful concept!

7. Ultimately, students are responsible for learning. As teachers, we need to find ways to motivate students and learn from one another.

The second section discussed the importance of building a classroom learning community. To me, this is exactly the same principles Accountable Talk encourages! Each child is expected to participate, but the environment is truly one of collaboration and team work. The classroom is a safe environment in which to generate, express, and justify ideas without criticism. Behavior and participation expectations are expressing in the classroom norms. Everyone's thoughts and opinions are respected and valued.

The third section of the book discussed the physical elements that are important for Guided Math.  These are all ideas are things you can address this summer prior to the new school year!

First, you'll need to think about the physical layout of your classroom- where will your large and small groups meet? Where will the math workshops (stations) take place? Do you have a location for independent work and materials?

To help with this, you might check out Classroom Architect. It's a free on line tool to help you create a layout for your classroom! Just plug in the dimensions and start moving furniture! When you get your room set up just the way you like it, you can save it and print it off.

As you're designing your layout, think about:
- establishing appropriate spaces for each guided math component
- creating spaces conducive to the social aspects of learning
- facilitate efficient movement within the classroom
- provide ease of access to materials needed by moth students and teachers

The end of the chapter discusses how to create a numeracy-rich environment through the use of agendas, manipulatives (making them available for student use), problem of the day, word walls, vocabulary, math journals, and graphic organizers, and more.  We know all of these are important methods of teaching- but are we extending these ideas to the math classroom as well?

As I read this chapter, I suddenly remembered several resources that would assist any teacher who might be establishing a numeracy-rich environment.  Luckily, they're all free!

The first freebie resource is from Lovely Little Leaders. This is an alphabet set that's full of math vocabulary! You can download yours by clicking here!

Do you have a math word wall? Those are also an important component of a numeracy-rich environment. There are many varieties of word walls already created for you. My favorite one is a "Visual Word Wall," where the vocabulary words are modeled in a picture.
I'm not certain where these came from, as I've had them in my google drive for years. You can download a copy by clicking here.

Another nice example of vocabulary comes from North Central ESD.
These are nice because each word has three variations- choose the one your students need the most! This website breaks the vocabulary cards down by grade level, so that's nice too! Click here to take a look at all the vocabulary cards available. NOTE: Please refer to your state standards/CCSS before assuming all of these words belong to your grade level.

The book also discusses the importance of using graphic organizers in math. Many teachers have taken graphic organizers to a whole new level by incorporating interactive notebooks into their math classes. Interactive notebooks are mini-books, flaps, and pockets that students glue into a notebook and use to record various types of information. If you are interested in getting started with interactive notebooks, check out my "Getting Started with Interactive Notebooks" blog post found here.

I think the most important of the foundational principals is the first one- All students can learn mathematics. In order to succeed, we must first truly believe that we can!

I think the idea of a mathematical learning community is something that must be specifically planned and addressed- it isn't typically something that "just happens."  Sit down with your students and create some classroom norms- norms that will bring a sense of community, team- work, and respect.

Whew- we made it through Chapter 2! I'll be back next week to share my thoughts on chapter 3.  Until then, have a wonderful week of SUMMER!
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  1. Love your blog page. :) The Learning Highway picture is awesome and your quote "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is a great one. Creativity at its best!


    Owner at Resources 4 Teaching Inc. Created by Teachers, Exclusively for Teachers

  2. This is an amazing post and I am so glad to have found your blog through the book study. Thanks for all the great links and I'm off to become your newest follower.
    Thinking of Teaching