July 22, 2013

Ch. 7: Conferring with Students During Guided Math

Hi all, Bethany again from Hunter's Tales from Teaching. I'm excited to bring you the highlights of Chapter 7 in our book study today!

Chapter 7 is called Conferring with Students During Guided Math

Many of us confer with our students in reading and writing, but I have to wonder how many of you are like me, and you don't really confer during math. 

Conferring in math is set-up the same way conferring is done in reading. There are four main steps; Research, Decide, Teach, and Link.

The first step to conferring is research.  During this step it is important to observe the work that your student is doing and to ask them questions to begin to understand their thought process. It is during this time that you are looking to see what your student clearly knows and what they do not know.

Step two is to decide what area you want to work on with your student based on the research you just gathered. It is important to choose one skill, strategy, or process to focus on during this conferring time.

Once you have decided what to cover, you can teach your student to help correct their understanding. It is highly recomended that you praise your students first. Find something they are doing well and encourage them to keep that up. Doing this will help your kids feel more confident, and will continue to let them know what types of things they should continue to do as a math student. 

Teaching can take on a number of different forms during your conference. It can be a demonstration, guided practice, explicit telling, or showing students what they need to correct or to challenge them (based on their need at the time.) 

The final step in conferring is link. When you link, you are showing students what they have done, and how it connects to what they are studying, have studied, or will study in the future. Doing this helps the student to share what they have learned and allows them to connect and take ownership of their learning.

The chapter stresses the importance of establishing a strong classroom management plan. One suggestion Laney Sammons gives to us is to crisscross across the classroom when you confer. Don't have the children come to you, and don't go student to student, but rather confer with one child on one side of the room and then jump to the other side. The proximity of the teacher moving around the room to meet with students will help some of our more wiggly kiddos stay on task.

It is super important for your students to understand how much you value the conferring time. Laney Sammons is very clear that our students should not interrupt us while we are in a conference with a student. Making sure that our kiddos don't interrupt us actually helps them to become better problem solvers. They are able to struggle through a task and when they figure it out on their own they are able to have the ultimate feeling of success that people get when they have had to work hard for something.

After reading this chapter I can see how important conferring, when done correctly, can positively impact our teaching. I'm looking forward to doing it next year.

Questions to Ponder:
  1. Do you currently confer with your students during math? How often do you confer with each child?
  2. How do you plan to confer with your students during math this year? 
  3. What are some management tips you have to help manage your classroom while you confer with students?

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