Guided Math- Chapter 4

Welcome to chapter four of our book study. If you have missed any of the discussions on the previous chapters, you can find them HERE.

In chapter four, Sammons discusses whole group math instruction. I feel that the heart of her book is about moving away from whole group instruction, however she still writes about times that whole group instruction is the best strategy. It shouldn't be eliminated altogether, but used in moderation.

Here are some times in which Sammons suggests that whole group instruction may be the most appropriate instructional grouping:
Mini Lessons

My favorite section in this chapter was the discussion of a good mini lesson. Sammons uses the framework for a mini lesson that Lucy Calkins uses in her writing curriculum. It just so happens that my school uses Lucy's writing curriculum and so this just seems like a very natural way to teach math as well. My students are already accustomed to the mini-lesson structure! It is also a great framework for keeping teacher talk time to the minimum and therefore giving more time to students for mathematical reasoning and practice. Here is a summary of the framework of the mini-lesson:

Connection: The teacher starts the mini lesson by connecting it to something that they have already learned. "Students, yesterday you practiced comparing two fractions by drawing pictures. You drew a variety of pictures that helped you to determine which fraction was larger and which fraction was smaller."

Teaching Point: The teacher will clearly tell the students what they will be learning today. "Now that you can draw pictures to compare fractions, we are going to learn how to use number lines to compare fractions." The teacher will then model the new strategy. The students are watching and listening as the teacher models. The teacher will think aloud to help students to understand her thought process. I think this is generally the part of the lesson that teachers spend too much time talking! It should be very short and to the point. Sammons suggests not asking the students to participate or ask questions during this part of the lesson.

Active Engagement: At this point in the lesson, students are going to be asked to apply the new strategy to their own work. This is meant to be a very quick check of the students' understanding. This is not a practice worksheet. The teacher might put a problem on the board and students solve it on their individual white boards. It may be as simple as a pair share opportunity where the teacher is listening in as groups discuss how to use the new strategy.

Link: The final step in the mini lesson is to tell students how they will be expected to use their new learning in their independent work. This is often the time in which the teacher is sending the student off to their math workshop activities or small groups. Students just need to know that they will be held accountable for using the new skill.

And all of this occurs in about 10 minutes!!! That is the challenge. However, when the mini lesson goes on much longer than that- we loose their attention anyway. The key is to remember that the students aren't going to reach mastery during the mini lesson. They will work with you during small group time and independently practice during math workshop. It wouldn't hurt to practice your mini lesson the night before so you can time it and get rid of any extra teacher talk.

I think this type of math instruction allows for greater differentiation. In my third grade class, I will have kids who are struggling to add two single-digit numbers and I will have kids ready to multiply two double-digit numbers. A short mini lesson will give me more time to teach at their level in small groups later.

So I am going to challenge myself to limit maxi lessons to the start of a new unit and instead use mini lesson instruction in math. To keep myself organized, I made this lesson planner...

To keep my lessons organized, I made some mini-lesson planners and included them in my Guided Math Binder.

I have an entire post about my Guided Math Binder scheduled for tomorrow, so be sure to pop back in!

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