What is Guided Math?

Hey Teachers~

I hope you are having a great day... I wanted to share with you that I love being an Instructional Coach.  I think it’s by far the best job besides working in the classroom.  I have had many many positions in the field of education and I love when I take on a position that allows me to reach more students than just the ones in my classroom.  

When I was in the classroom, I loved to teach MATH! By far it’s my favorite subject.  

But Shhhhh…. I am an English Language Arts IC this year and my teachers would kill me if they knew. 

One instructional strategy I used while teaching was Guided Math.  I always wondered why we did small group instruction with reading class but only whole group instruction with math.  At some point, we all had to figure out the differentiation and small group instruction was needed in both ELA/Reading block and Math block. 

So let’s talk Guided Math… 

Guided Math is an instructional strategy which allows you to meet the needs of all students. With the implementation of grouping (based on abilities), individual/group conferences, workshops, and assessments -  you’ll be helping your students achieve the required skills to gain a better understanding, learn new concepts, attain new problem-solving techniques, and acquire a positive attitude toward math. 

If you are looking to set up guided math in your class, you’ll need to know each of your student’s ability levels so you can group them accordingly and effectively - your students will not benefit from being in mixed groups. Mixed groups wouldn’t help as your lower achieving students would not be able to provide any support for higher achieving students in the group if needed. Grouping your students based on their ability levels will help you give more time to the students that need more guidance, as the group members will be able to independently support each other.

Another advantage of creating small working groups is allowing your students to interact with students that possess the same abilities. This could be incredibly helpful when students would like to ask a question, double check a strategy, or needs further help on a certain concept, as students would need to explain their process, and support their decisions when talking with their peers – also, this encourages mathematical thinking.

Setting up workshops in your classroom will allow extra time for you to work with students that need your help, and allows you to hold uninterrupted individual/group conferences. Examples of workshops found in the book - ‘Guided Math – A framework for Mathematics Instruction’, by Laney Sammons (you can find a link to this book at the end of this post) – include:

“…inquiries or investigations, math-center activities, math games, problems of the week, Math Journal writing, or written practice…”.

These workshops work really well when introducing a new concept – if a group of students comprehends the new concept quickly, they will not want to listen to you explain the concept in lots of different ways (which could help the students that are struggling to understand), so you can send the group of students, who understood the new concept, to a workshop to work independently, while you help the remaining students. 

When you are setting up workshops and class scheduling, try to account for the size of your classroom, group sizes and time restraints. To help you get an idea of how to schedule your class, here is a weekly example schedule from the book – ‘Guided Math – A framework for Mathematics Instruction’, by Laney Sammons (you can find a link to this book at the end of this post):

During individual/group conferences, where you’ll meet with a group or individual students, you will receive immediate feedback on the areas you are focusing on at the time. If a group or student is finding it hard to grasp a certain concept, you’ll be able to help and explain in different ways to give your student(s) extra scope. Your student(s) will benefit greatly from the one-to-one approaches that guided math enables, which you may have not found time to do before.

I hope this post has given you the required information for you to decide whether guided math is right for your classroom. 

My next post will be - ‘Why implement the guided math framework?’ – so, stay tuned and subscribe so you don’t miss out!

1 comment

  1. Great post! I've been trying to figure out how to implement guided math in my half-day Kindergarten classes and am looking forward to reading your follow up posts :)


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