July 10, 2013

Ch. 4: Guided Math: Using Guided Math with the Whole Class

Hi Friends! I am Tara, or TWitte, from Teaching with TWitte and I am ecstatic to be participating in my first book study with Tina from Mrs.Crofts' Classroom.

I always try to read a couple of educational books during the summer, so when I saw this book study, and researched the text, I discovered that it would be a great fit. As many of your know, I am going to teach 4th grade this year, in a new district, and I finally get to teach, real guided reading. So of course, it would make sense to teach guided math, as well.

Without further ado, I will share Guided Math, Chapter 4, with you now.

The title of this chapter is Using Guided Math with the Whole Class. The advantages and challenges of teaching whole-class instruction are explored throughout the chapter.

Advantages of Whole-Class Instruction
* Teaching mini-lessons
* Activating activities
* Reading aloud math literature
* Establishing Math Workshop routines
* Conducting a Math Huddle
* Practicing and reviewing skills/concepts
* Formal testing and assessing

Whole-class instruction can last for a whole period or a portion of the period. It is typically the easiest to plan for because all students are doing the same thing. While students are all learning the same skills/concepts, in the same way, at the same time, this type of instruction builds a sense of community (refer to Chapter 2 to read more about community building). Guided Math is designed to be flexible, so whole-class instruction is not necessary used all day/every day, but rather when it will be most beneficial to the students. 

Challenges of Whole-Class Instruction
* Not all students benefit from learning at the same level
* It is more difficult to be sure that all students are attending and engaged
* Teacher dominated lessons - limited student communication
* Less opportunity to provide necessary specific feedback to all students

Mini-lessons are meant to be brief, explicit, and no more than 10 minutes long. They are typically used at the beginning of a lesson or at the end of a lesson as a summary of learning. 

Architecture of Math Mini-Lesson
* Connection *
This can be a connection to real-world application, previous learning, a text, or other areas of instruction. A connection will allow students to have a concrete starting point for trying to grasp the new information. 
* Teaching Point * 
Always state the purpose of the lesson, "Today I am going to teach you..." Teachers model what students will be expected to learn while thinking aloud. It is important to cue students attention to important information, "You are going to want to pay attention to this." 
*Active Engagement *
This should be a short period of guided practice. At this time, students might turn-and-talk, sharing their understanding of the concept, in their own words, with their neighbor. Students might also try working on a problem using individual white boards. 
* Link to Ongoing Work *
Provide students with a reminder of the teaching point before setting them off to do their own independent work. 

Activating Strategies
As in any other content area, these are a sort of springboard for new instruction. Things like KWL charts, anticipation guides, and word splashes. 

I found this math anticipation guide on Pinterest, if you click on the picture it links back to the original blog post from The Creative Apple

Reading Math Related Children's Literature
Most students love to listen to read-alouds. While listening to a math-related read-aloud, students are able to make more meaningful connections to the concept and they become more deeply involved in the learning and ideas. Math literature reinforces that the skills/concepts the students are learning in math are truly part of everyday life. In the beginning, you, the teacher, will have to think-aloud to identify the math links in the text, but over time, students will be able to take over the task of identifying the math links. Finally, math literature allows students to understand and hear math vocabulary used in context. 

Establishing Routines for Math Workshop
In order to be able to run a successive math workshop, it is necessary to use whole-class instruction to model and practice routines and expectations, as with reading or writing workshops. It will also be necessary to revisit these routines and expectations throughout the year in whole-class settings. 

Math Huddle
Math Huddles allow for students to come together as a group to share their thoughts, ideas, learning, understanding, and strategies with their classmates. Verbalizing learning in their own words is important to students' understanding and allows the teacher the opportunity to clarify any misconceptions. 

Practice and Review
Whole-class instruction works for pencil and paper tasks, such as practice and worksheet completion for grades to be taken. Video clips, games, or learning songs all lend themselves to whole-class instruction. Clickers and classroom response with technology can be used, as well. 

Finally, formal testing and assessing is completed in a whole-class situation. 

I tried to make this post too long or overwhelming, but this was a lengthy, informative chapter. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will try to clear up anything that I can. 

1. How often do you use whole-class instruction?

2. For what purpose do you typically use whole-class instruction?

3. In the future, what might you do to make whole-class instruction more meaningful/effective?


  1. 1. I use whole-class instruction too much, almost daily.

    2. At the moment I use whole-class instruction to teach most lessons, share literature, make foldables etc.

    3. In the future I plan to use whole-class instruction to teach mini-lessons, share literature and to make our math foldables (it will save time to do it as a whole class-than to do it in small groups.)

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. 1. I use whole-class instruction when the majority of the class needs to learn a concept so it differs how often I use it.

    2. I use whole class instruction in history and science but totally do small groups the majority of the time for LA and math.

    3. After reading this chapter every time I do whole class instruction I am going to focus on your list of advantages...huddles, mini-lessons, read alouds, establishing routines, and foldables like Bethany said. Whole class instruction is beneficial if used right.

    Awesome overview Tara!