Hi there teacher friends!

Our guided math workshop is certainly one of our most favorite times of the day. I aim to be very intentional with each routine and step that I take with my students … I am really horrified at the idea that they will develop math anxiety, the same way I did when I was little.

Today I wanted to write about the 10 most important things that I do that make our guided math block a successful time/space for me and for my students.

# Intentional Wall Use

Let me ask you one question before anything, have you been as diligent in creating a numeracy environment as much as you have been with your literacy environment? Maybe you have been, or maybe you haven’t. One of the things that I have learned throughout my teaching years, is that I need my students to be immerse in a math rich environment. This is because I want to promote mathematical understanding not only during our guided math workshop, but during the whole day. This anchor chart of word problems is a good example. I add the word problem sample as I introduce each type of word problem. You can download by clicking on the pic.

# Follow the Data

Yes, I know, you might be thinking “gag.” But data is a very important piece of the puzzle if you want to be accurate when grouping your students for guided math small groups, and to identify students who need interventions. You need both your knowledge of your students and assessment data, in order to fill their many holes and to move your students forward with intention and precision.

# Anchor Charts

OK so anchor charts are my jam. Anchor charts in our guided math workshop serve many purposes. They can help students with math routines, concepts, mathematical processes, learning from math exemplars, and more!

This is an exemplar chart that I created for my students to see how I solve two-step word problems.

# State Standards

We don’t teach standards. We teach students.

I want to make that clear. It is a wonderful thing, when an awesome teacher can teach both. The standards, whether Common Core or your state standards, should be the center of your instruction. There should be whole group lessons for each standard, and differentiated small groups to scaffold. This is why your guided math block is so powerful!

# BUILD Math Centers

My BUILD math centers allow me to effectively meet and teach my guided math small groups. My students are completely engaged in a variety of tasks where they can explore and expand their mathematical thinking. So far, I have them available for first and second grade, and I am currently working on the Kindergarten version!

BUILD Math Centers allow my students to reinforce and extend prior instruction, while learning from each other. They are packed with tons of engaging standards based math activities.

If you are curious, you can download FREE math centers for FIRST GRADE and for SECOND GRADE.

# Gradual Release

There is not really a set structure for our guided math block. The structure is set by where we are in the gradual release of responsibility model. In other words, our guided math workshop works because we are flexible. We respect each aspect of it and truly believe that everyone is a mathematician with the right support!

# Literature

I organize our classroom library in such a way that there is room for books about math. Why? Because we should know better that students make the MOST meaningful connections through literature and math is not the exception. Through literature, our students observe mathematical patterns, develop understanding of fractions and large numbers, and they also explore the meaning of mathematical vocabulary.

# Technology

Let the standards guide your technology choices. I wrote this blog post about free apps to develop number sense. Instructional technology serves many purposes in our classroom, in our guided math we use it as part of our BUILD math centers. My district also implements an assessment tool to be used with an iPad, so yes… Technology is everywhere. However:

Don’t forget that!

# Problem of the Day

Problem of the day is a must in our classroom, and it should be in your classroom too!

Why are they a very important section of our guided math workshop?

Well, once the word problems are posted and solved, your students will see that there are many solutions represented in multiple ways. This means that through problem of the day, not only will your students be learning that there is not ONE way to do math, but they will also develop relational thinking.

# Social Aspect of Learning

Every classroom should have some sort of intentional talk going on. There is a difference between playground talk and intentional talk in our classroom and I like to make this very clear with the children from the start. I encourage students helping each other, monitoring each other, and providing feedback to each other. Meaningful interaction like this one are so valuable in our guided math workshop. I am humbled when I see my students overcome fears, develop critical thinking skills while collaborating with each other.

Jessica Greene says

Do you have a link for the containers used for your BUILD centers? Also, how many copies or sets do you make of each activity?

Laura says

Hi Jessica,

I buy my containers from the Dollar Tree. I also make 2 or 3 copies of each set to put out to students.