Sunday, July 15, 2012

Guided Math ~ Chapter 7: Conferring with Students

We are very quickly winding down our Guided Math Book Study.  I can't believe we're already on Chapter 7!  

Actually, I'm a little behind with all the events of last week here on my blog.  Chapter 8 started today, so I've got a little catching up to do.  

Speaking of all the event of last week, I want to give one more huge thank you to all who participated.  I took most of the weekend off from my blog, but now I'm back and ready to go.

Chapter 7 is about conferring with students.  When I saw the title, and remember I knew nothing about Guided Math before this book study, I pictured calling students up one at a time to my desk and having a conference.


This is what most of us do to some degree already.  I move around the room and stop to talk to students who need help or look lost or look like they're visiting another planet.

Here are two major differences though.

My 'conferences' are not nearly as thought out and well-planned as these in Guided Math are.  I just sort of wing it.

Also, this tends to be a time of hand-raising by many students who need me or want to ask a not-always-on-topic question or are just trying to waste time.  If I'm not there fast enough, they get impatient and frustrated.

So my 'conferences' must become the conferences explained in the book!

I have always said that many students are just too afraid to think for themselves.  I've often used the term "spoon-fed" just like Sammons.  Teachers along the way thought they were doing right by the students to just keep helping and helping and helping instead of allowing students to struggle and think for themselves.

I usually have a chat with my students towards the beginning of the year that sometimes we have to use Tough Love in math.  We talk about what that means and more importantly that it doesn't mean I don't want to teach them or help them or have them learn the concept.  

I also share a story from my first year of teaching when my administrator came to observe me informally one day.  The students were working on a pretty tough word problem individually at their seats.  I walked around observing students' work for a minute or two, but I didn't want my administrator to think I was wasting class time and not helping my students.  So I asked if they were ready to talk about the problem.  Some said yes...most said not yet.  My administrator very nicely, thank goodness, said, "Mrs. Lundy, why don't we give them some more time to think it through on their own?"  So I did and we talked about it later.  She suggested letting them struggle, just a bit, but not to the point of shutdown.  She was a math teacher while in the classroom and felt there had to be some amount of struggle for students to learn and grow mathematically.

OK...sort of got off track, but my point to make was that I have got to make me students understand it's alright not to know the answer right away.  It's OK to move on to something else and come back to the problem at another time.

I also agree with starting the conversation out with a positive.  I do this even when behavior and discipline is involved.

I haven't kept records of the 'conferences' I've had with students and I don't think I could have the way I was doing them.  I will come up with some way that works for me to do this.  I feel this would be an awesome tool to have at parent conferences, behavior meetings, and failure meetings.

I know I'll be a little scattered and unsure to begin with, but just like we tell our students, I'll keep working at it until I get it right!

I did a couple of freebies with other chapters.  I thought the steps to the conferences would be another good one to make and have in my binder for quick and easy access.

It's available to download from Google Docs.  Click on the image to grab yours.

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michelle,

    Sorry to bother you, but the giveaway favors you sent this morning bounced back from my email account and I was wondering if you could resend them to

    Also, I totally agree with you about conferring with students. After reading this. Ok I too realized it was a lot more than calling students up one by one.