What is Guided Math?
As dedicated elementary school teachers, we are constantly looking for new methods to empower our students in math and to help them build up their confidence. One effective approach that has gained widespread recognition is guided math.
Guided math is a personalized instructional strategy that tailors math learning to individual student needs, leading to a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts while nurturing a love for numbers.
What exactly is guided math, and why is it becoming an valuable method in the teaching?
Guided math involves breaking down mathematical concepts into smaller, more manageable parts. It is a student-centered approach that allows educators to work with small groups or individuals, addressing their specific needs and learning paces. This personalized attention creates an environment where every student’s unique strengths and challenges are acknowledged and supported.
Top 5 Benefits to Guided Math
Here is what I think are the top 5 benefits of implementing guided math in your elementary classroom:
1) Individualized Learning:
One size does not fit all when it comes to learning math. Guided math allows teachers to focus their instruction to meet each student’s individual needs. By working closely with smaller groups or individuals, teachers can focus on the areas where students require extra support and challenge those who are ready to progress further.
There are many different views on how to group students. Some say homogenous groups are better. Others say heterogenous groups are better. You will have to see what works best for your students but I have found grouping students together by skill level works best for helping students with their confidence (see below fo rmore on that).
2) Enhanced Understanding:
Through guided math, teachers can use various techniques, such as manipulatives, visual aids, and interactive activities, to help illustrate abstract mathematical concepts. This hands-on approach fosters a deeper understanding of numbers, operations, and problem-solving strategies.
3) Increased Engagement:
The personalized nature of guided math fosters a more engaging learning environment. Students actively participate in discussions, collaborate with peers, and take ownership of their learning. This involvement cultivates a positive attitude towards math and a willingness to explore new concepts. It is much easier to spot a student who is not participating when you are working with a small group than when you are doing a whole class lesson. In other words … there are less places for students to hide during guided math group work.
4) Improved Confidence:
As students receive targeted support and recognition for their progress, their confidence in their mathematical abilities grows. This confidence translates into a willingness to tackle challenges, participate in lessons, and take risks in problem-solving, leading to overall academic success.
5) Progress Monitoring:
Smaller groups allows for ongoing assessment and monitoring of student progress. Teachers can quickly identify areas where students excel and areas that require further reinforcement, enabling timely interventions and adaptations to teaching strategies. Before a student leaves your group area (a table in my case) you will already know how they are doing on the skills taught because you would have had close monitoring of their actions during the group time!
But I already have a math program
Implementing guided math into your classroom doesn’t necessarily mean an entire overhaul of your current teaching methods. It’s about incorporating these practices into your existing curriculum, providing students with opportunities for individualized learning and support. Start small! Introduce guided math through stations or rotating small group activities, gradually expanding as you become more comfortable with the approach.
Try doing rotations one day at the end of the week. This will allow you to touch base with students you saw struggling or needing enrichment during whole class lessons, earlier in the week.
LEt me Remind you…
As teachers, our goal is to create environments that foster a love for learning and equips students with the skills needed to succeed. Guided math, with its focus on personalized instruction and deeper understanding, stands as a valuable tool in achieving these goals.
Embrace this approach, adapt it to your classroom dynamics, and witness the transformation it brings to your students’ mathematical journey.
Professional Development Books
Previously I wrote a post detailing my favourite math professional development books. One of my top 5 is about Guided Math and is the main reason I started exploring more about it.
Here’s to unlocking the full potential of your students through the power of guided math!