Conferring with your Little Ones about Math {Guided Math}

I really enjoyed this chapter. It one of those where you think....yep, I know that already... BUT am I doing it?

Does that make sense?

There are things we naturally know are good for kids and I don't think anyone is surprised to hear that we should help students become self-sufficient and have a better understanding of their learning. We know students will need our help as they work on their own and we know the more immediate we can observe and talk with a child, the more effective the conference will be.


But the hard part of this is HOW?

And no pressure or anything... but that short one on one time you have with a student may be the most important part of their math instruction for the day.

And as a teacher... super valuable for you too as this one on one time is a chance for you to snag all kinds of data!!

So what makes up this little conference time? This chapter explores how to structure your classroom so you can effectively run a Math Workshop time that is useful and productive for all.

The main things a teacher must do are:
*Research Student Understanding
*Decide What is Needed
*Teach to the Student Needs
*Link Learning to the Future

I am not going to dive deeper into these areas since I believe many of my linked up friends already did that.  {see the bottom of this post to hop on over to their posts on this chapter}

Instead I want to focus on the record keeping.

I think this is one of those things that people can tell you whatever they want- but over time you will develop a system that works for you that may be a combination of a million other people's ideas. Does that make sense?

Here is what I do.

I have a clipboard with a sticky note for each child I meet with. So when Johnny is sitting down to conference I slap a sticky note on my clipboard with his name {or just initials to save room} on it and the date. As we chat I copy down my notes.

Over the years I have created various short hand for things that probably only make sense to me. Although if I am honest that is more true for Guided Reading than for math. My conferencing in math is something I need to kick into gear and make it as much of a priority as I do in reading.

OK now that my confession is out there... let's move on!

When Johnny and I finish our chat I keep the post it on my clipboard and move on to the next child who gets a fresh post it.

On my clipboard I also have a class list and I will put a tally by Johnny's name so I know we met this week. {IF I am super organized... only sometimes.... I will use a different color pen for each day of the week} The goal may be to meet with each child three times by the end of the week and I would hope to have 3 tallies by each of them.

I am going to go on a tangent for a second here and say this:

The books may say you need to meet with every child every day or whatever it may be... and although I would 100% agree that would be awesome. If that isn't possible for you don't freak out. Your situation may be different than other people For example, I have 29 students and no aide {my aide is only there for Language Arts} so it is unreasonable for me to meet with everyone every day regardless of what I read... I was able to do that back when I only had 20 students and more help.

I bend over backwards to do what I can, but I think it is important for teachers to understand this and not beat themselves up. We all try so hard to do sooo much!! And I have spent a lot of time in my 15 years of teaching being disappointed in what I didn't do or what I saw someone else do.

Have you ever done that as you pass by another classroom or read another blog and think...... Eeeekkk! I need to step up my game. And yes, sometimes that is a good reminder to refocus and maybe you {or me!} do need to step it up......but sometimes I think we are too hard on ourselves!

Other times I have tried to learn to say- good for them.... but for whatever reason it may not be good for me. It is important to do what you are doing RIGHT.... don't try to keep up just for the sake of keeping up.

And this isn't just true for math conferences... or even teaching... I think it is just true in general.

Anyway...back from the tangent.

I then take the post it notes and put them in a 3 ring binder where every child has their own tab. I do add tape to the top at this point because once they are stuck in here I want them to STAY there. Then when I flip to Johnny's page I can see a progression of how he is doing.

This record keeping is much more useful for me to better guide my instruction than any formal assessments.

Anyway, that is all for today my friends.

I would say that pictures would have helped this post greatly... but in summer such binders and clipboards do not exist... I have written myself another post it to say... re-do this post during the school year and share more!!

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