Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Guided Math Book Study: Chapter One

Guided Math Book Study: Chapter One

Thanks so much to the AMAZING Amanda Wilp from The Primary Gal for putting together this book study and blog hop!

Several of us got together to read the book Guided Math by Laney Sammons.

All summer we will be blogging once per week about each chapter of the book and reflecting on how we can implement some of these strategies into our own math instruction. There will also be a giveaway each week! Plus, you are likely to find freebies (like at the end of this post!) and new products along the way! Fun stuff!

So let's get started with chapter one! The first chapter included a rational and an overview of the framework of a math workshop style of instruction. Sammons starts by talking about how math instruction was when we were in school--- teacher talks, students listen and then do a worksheet. That is exactly how I remember math! Sammons contends that this type of math instruction does NOT work and the fact that so many people cannot calculate a 10% tip in their head is proof. I got a good laugh out of this because it is so true!!! We learned algorithms but didn't have number sense! Sammons suggests that, just as we did with literacy, we need to switch from a purely whole group model to one which includes the following components:
1. A Classroom Environment of Numeracy
2. Morning Warm-Ups and Calendar Activities
3. Whole-Class Instructions
4. Guided Math Instruction with Small Groups
5. Math Workshop
6. Individual Conferences
7. An On-Going System of Assessments

I am intrigued and look forward to a chapter on each of these components!

This was a crazy challenging year for me in the area of math instruction. Last year, I LOVED teaching math! I was team teaching and I had the enrich math students. I had set up a very successful and engaging math workshop that involved some whole group instruction, independent practice, problem solving, skill games and math fact fluency games. It was organized and did not require much prep work.

You can read more about it HERE.

But this year EVERYTHING changed! No team teaching. No curriculum. No assessments. Complete Common Core implementation. Standards Based report cards. So I am the first to admit that math was a bit messy in my classroom!!!

None the less, I feel like I am ending on a high note! I think I figured out a schedule that works for me! At the beginning of the year, we were asked to have three math small groups and to meet with them every day for 20 minutes. That was a disaster challenge for me. The groups were too big and there wasn't enough time in the day! My solution? I now have four math groups that I meet with twice a week for 30 minutes each. The groups are smaller and more homogeneous and I have more time to meet with them and less wasted transition time.

I think that the activities that students complete during the workshop time are meaningful rather than just busy work. I incorporate math journaling, spiral review, fact practice and technology. And the best part...no weekly prep for me! That means I can focus more on planning the small group and whole group instruction.

Now that I have the small group and independent centers working for me, my biggest struggle is the assessment component. As I mentioned, we are not really using much in the way of curriculum as we wait for the curriculum to catch up to the new standards.

During the year I purchased math assessments on TpT that covered every math standard. The problem? Every question required the exact same skill to solve. I couldn't really tell where my students' understanding broke down.

For example, I gave a time and elapsed time assessment. A few kids scored a zero!!! But every clock showed a time to the minute and every elapsed time problem was to the minute since that is the third grade standard. So can they tell time to the hour? Can they tell time to the half hour? To the five minute? Can they do elapsed time to the hour? I had NO idea! So I had no idea how to group students and where to begin my instruction.

I fear that my groups were not fluid enough and were not always focused on the exact area that the student was struggling with.

My solution? This summer, I am making assessments and task card sets that are scaffolded! They will start with simple problems and gradually become more complex. I think these will help me to quickly tell where my students are in their understanding!


Would you like to try my first one for FREE? It's for assessing time and elapsed time. Just click HERE to download. Then leave a comment about what you think or about your strengths and weaknesses as a  math teacher.

Be sure to hop around and see what other bloggers are saying about the first chapter. And don't forget to sign up for this week's giveaway! I donated my Telling Time Task Cards which are scaffolded very similar to my free assessment!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I am currently reading Guided Math too! It seems a little strange to teach this way but my math lesson weren't working for my class last year. The students were not engaged and it was always a mess. I'm happy to see there is a book study going for this book as I'm currently reading it. Is it a sign? I think so. My question for you is are you planning on doing a post on your games binder and independent practice? I would like to know more about them.

    -Jeremy @ Mr. Michelbook's Classroom

    1. I wrote a detailed post about my centers that explains more about the games and independent work...

  2. I, too, would like more information on your games binder! I love the idea of your scaffolded assessments and task cards. I downloaded your freebie sample and it looks terrific! Ii has given me ideas on what I can create for my class (I teach second grade).

    1. I wrote another post with more information about the game binders.

  3. I go set up a "game" option.. They are different partner games and I have a "partner game supply" drawer...I wrote about that in my blog posting. In looking at your weekly schedule do you introduce the topic whole group or during small group? That is something I struggled with... I read somewhere that basically it is a waste of time to do the same thing 3-4 times a day but I am not sure I agree... Love your post! :)

    Kickin It Whole Brain In Texas

    1. I like to use a pretest prior to a new unit if study. This helps me to decide which skills are needed by the whole group and which are best addressed by a couple small groups. I am using a math workshop model so my whole group lessons are only 10-15 minutes long. I have a post coming soon about it!

  4. Love your post! Thanks for posting your schedule and the freebie. I'm moving to 3rd next year and can't wait to see what you create!

    Swinging for Success
    Follow me on Facebook!

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