What are the components of the Guided Math Framework? How do they work?

Greetings Teacher Friends-

It has been a crazy 2 weeks.  We are preparing our students for our upcoming testing and I have been working working working with teachers.  We also just implemented our after-school extended day tutoring program.  So I have been busy with that.  Today, I made a cautious effort to make sure that I continue with our series.  So here it is…

In this blog post, let’s talk about all seven components of the guided math framework, in greater depth. Below is a table from the book - ‘Guided Math – A framework for Mathematics Instruction’, by Laney Sammons to give you a brief description of all seven components:

Numeracy-rich Classroom Environment:

When arranging your classroom to adhere to the goals of creating a numeracy-rich environment, based on the guided math framework, you should make sure you design your classroom for all seven components, and ensure that there is enough room that correlates to the amount of space required for each component.

When placing your furniture around your classroom, keep in mind that your students will need space to move from one component area to the next, e.g. from the math workshop area to the teacher-conference area.

You will need to make math materials and manipulatives easily accessible to enforce independent learning, this will become very useful during teacher-conferences.

Setting up your classroom according to the guided math framework, you should arrange the desks/tables into sets so students are able to sit together when at their home area (where students start and finish their school days), this allows for students’ interaction which can aid with learning. Also, home areas should contain students’ personal belongings and supplies.

Don’t forget to have a large area, preferably carpeted, for teacher-directed traditional instruction – this is where your students will gather for whole class lessons and the perfect spot to place the calendar board, an easel/whiteboard, a hundred chart, and a number line. Other activities that you could use this space for are: anchor chart creation, read/think-aloud's, and modeling.

A small space equipped with all the tools your students normally need during a lesson will need to be included in your classroom – this space will be used for small group instruction, teacher conferences, and assessments.

You do not need a specific area set up for the math workshop component, as long as everything your students need to work independently, or within groups is accessible as students can just work at the tables, or on the floor. At the beginning of the year, as well as advising your students how to access all the required math materials, you should share your expectations on how your students should behave at all your sections, so they know to tidy up behind them.

When you design your classroom, make room for shelving as you’ll need a storage section. You will need tubs that will fit your shelving to store all the materials and manipulatives. Ensure all the tubs are labeled to help your students organize the items into the right boxes during tidy up.

Other items you should include in your classroom (which are suggested in this 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):
  • Student calendars/agendas
  • Manipulatives
  • Problems of the day/week
  • Math word walls
  • Math journals
  • Graphic organizers
  • Class-made charts
  • Measuring tools
  • Math literature

Morning Math Warm-ups:

Morning math warm-ups need to be carefully planned, brief, independent, daily, varied and either: based on the current topics, activities on concepts already taught, or regarding future topics.

Examples include: 
  • Math current events board
  • Calendar board activities
  • Real life scenarios
  • Data collection
  • Number of the day
  • What’s next?
  • __________ makes me think of …
  • How did my family use math last night?

Whole-Class Instruction:

Whole-class instruction is teacher-directed, and the traditional way to teach. This method of teaching is included within the guided math framework as a component as whole-class instruction is still beneficial when:
  • Hosting mini lessons or math huddles
  • Teaching strategies and procedures (e.g. KWL Chart)
  • Explaining math workshop instruction
  • Creating anticipation guides and word splashes
  • Assessing and reviewing students (e.g. pencil and paper tasks)

As you’d use the other six components of the guided math framework, you wouldn’t need to plan as much as you do now, for the whole-class instruction, freeing up more time for other components.

Guided Math with Small Groups:

Students are arranged into groups according to their skill levels to aid independent group work.
As students are grouped this way, you’ll be able to concentrate on engaging, tailored teaching which is suitable for all your students.
You can use the time in the small groups to:
  • Use manipulatives when teaching
  • Instruct based on the current groups abilities
  • Teach mathematical ‘Hot Spots’
  • Informally assess your students

Math Workshop:

Math workshops are designed with your small groups in mind. When you are holding a teacher-student conference or assessing a group of students, your class (split into groups) will be attending and engaging in a math workshop activity.

Examples of how your students can use math workshops:
  • Review previously mastered concepts
  • Participate in math games, problem-solving, and investigations
  • Enhance skills by recording in their math journals

Teacher-Student Conferences:

Conferences can be held between you and a group of students, individual students, or by visiting students around the classroom for a brief chat. Speaking and conferring with your students regularly helps you to understand what your students need to learn next, which students need extra support, and which students are excelling.

When you hold an informal conference with a student, you should:
  • Observe your students work and interview them to find out how well they understand a certain topic/concept
  • Create a teaching strategy of what you believe your students need based on observations
  • When explaining mathematical concepts during a conference, teach in the way the student(s) learn – e.g. demonstrations, guided practice, or show and tell.


With the guided math framework, you are required to assess frequently so you can keep track of your students’ learning – past, present, and future.
You can assess using a checklist or Rubric’s scoring guide so you can work toward criteria of success.
After assessing your students, you should provide feedback regarding their progress and what they need to improve.

Next week will be the last post in this series and will be titled: ‘Putting a guided math framework into practice, “The Implementation”’.

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