I have three half-finished blog posts... but this one is "time sensitive," so it's arriving first!
This has been a summer of reading and learning for me. I made a commitment to read five professional books before I returned to school. I may not read all of each of them, but I am reading most of all of them, so I'm considering that a success.
|Creative Clips HERE on TpT and Sunglasses by Dots of Fun HERE on TpT|
Do you know Brenda at Primary Inspired? I just adore her! She's one of those "can-do"people that makes things happen. This is the second time I have been involved in a Book Study with her--and this is the second time that everything has unfolded perfectly and fallen into place. That gal is a marvel! This summer she has organized a study of the book Guided Math Conferences by Laney Sammons. We're up to chapter three and it's my turn to invite you to join in the discussion!
Guilty as charged. With the implementation of Common Core, we have a responsibility to push students to consider and analyze and question. And while my lessons may be moving away from traditional mathematics instruction and in the direction of more open-ended questions and opportunities for multiple answers... my assessments have barely budged.
Time to re-think. Here's how Sammons describes Guided Math conferences:
Isn't that wonderful? I was so thankful I was underlining with a pencil instead of using a highlighter because I would have ended up with multiple pages colored yellow! So many profound thoughts!
Three pages in, and Sammons had won my heart completely. While she gave numerous compelling reasons for Guided Math conferences--all of them valid--the push to value students as learners and the call to connect with them as an integral part of guiding their mathematical learning were such powerful messages.
The structure of Guided Math conferences is based on that of writing conferences... with an emphasis on a predictable conversational pattern that encourages mathematical growth and, concurrently, facilitates deeper mathematical discussion.
Essentially, there are four sequential steps to a Guided Math conference:
Sammons then provides a series of questions that can help a teacher support students in explaining their mathematical thinking with more precision--thus enabling a teacher to guide their mathematical processing even further.
There are many suggestions listed in the book... here is just a sample:
- What mathematical strategies are you using today?
- What predictions can you make based on your work?
- What questions could you ask yourself to help you understand the math better?
- Are there other ways of expressing/representing this?
In this section, Sammons discusses the importance of an "authentic compliment." The generic "good job" isn't helpful here. Instead, students need specific input about their thinking and reasoning. Positive recognition is an important component of the conference--but only if it helps push the students' thinking along.
Again, the tone of this section makes my heart happy. "Students feel supported and proud of their work when teachers notice and affirm their mathematical growth." It would be easy for students to feel vulnerable under such scrutiny--compounded by the one-on-one format of the conference. Making a decision to search for and recognize things the student has done well helps encourage the student to continue to be an active participant in the conference process.
Teachers then need to decide on a teaching point and determine how best to teach the concept. Teaching has to be concise and well-thought out. And, for the record, telling isn't teaching. Decisions about instructional process need to be made "on the spot" before the teaching begins.
To me, this sounds like the easiest (or, at least, the most exciting!) part of the process. Once decisions have been made about what the student knows and how he is putting the work into practice, a decision is made about what and how to teach.
AND THEN YOU TEACH. But this type of teaching is so purposeful, so distilled down to the critical details, there is nothing superfluous. Time is precious. In this one-on-one setting, there is not a moment to be wasted... especially when there are thirty others students who will, at some point, complete the same process.
For each of the four phases of the conference, Sammons discusses the challenges that a teacher might face as she/he tries to implement Guided Math conferences. By anticipating potential obstacles, the author is, in reality, scaffolding the teachers' learning of the process and, consequently, increasing the chance for success.
As much as this book is helpful, it is also hopeful! Sammons' writing allows a teacher to feel confident about a process that is meant to instill confidence in students and accelerate their mathematical thinking and learning. Her sequential, systematic, kid-honoring approach has certainly inspired me to give Guided Math conferences a try!
I'll leave you with one last quote for good measure (heeheehee... That's some math talk for you!)
Great news! I know there's a mighty good chance that my meandering drivel did not provide you with the most comprehensible summary of the structure of Guided Math conferences. But that's okay, because, lucky for you, Whitney at The Crazy Schoolteacher blog has provided you with another (more streamlined) review of the same chapter. You can check it out here:
Even better, we are waiting for YOU to join us in this Bloggy Book Study. See that space below? There's where you can link up and share your impressions about Guided Math conferences as well. And I really hope you'll join is the discussion because I am looking forward to reading your perspective as well!
So come on... Link up! We've saved a seat for you!
HERE on TpT!