CAFE Headers & Guided Math - Chapter 7

Thanks to my trusty Cricut machine, I completed my new CAFE header cards. Even though I am tempted to type up and print all of the skill cards that go under each header, I know how much a child values seeing the card they wrote go up on the board.   

Now, onto Math :)

Guided Math
Chapter 7 - Conferring with Students During Guided Math
This chapter is being hosted by Mrs. Patton's Patch and Thinking of Teaching.

I continue to run scenarios in my head of how all the pieces of guided math will fall into place with our current curriculum.  I admit that it is a relief to know that there might be days you don't teach small group lessons or do the workshop rotations.  I have posted before about the structure I envision for my math workshop using the TIME acronym (if you haven't read about it, click here).  I purposely created four rotations even though I think I will probably only have 3 math groups most of the time.  So, why four rotations?  If I do not have a group meeting with me during one of the rotations, I will be free to conference with individual students who are doing independent work or extending the lesson.

"The goal of a conference is to move a student from what he or she can almost do independently to what he or she can do independently." (Sammons)  According to the author, the structure of a math conference should consist of four parts:  Research Student Understanding, Decide What is Needed, Teach to Student Needs, and Link to the Future.

Research Student Understanding
Observe and question what the student is doing.  Search for evidence of understanding and reflect on previous interactions with the student.  Does the student look confident or confused?  Sometimes your teaching point is obvious.  Other times you can find several teaching points, but it is important to choose just one that the student can focus upon. 

Decide What is Needed
This should be happening while you are researching student understanding and reflecting on previous conferences with that student.  Identify things the student is doing well, decide what to teach to move the student forward, and focus on how to utilize your limited time to teach the student so they will be able to apply the teaching towards their math work in the future.  It is often easy to focus in on what mistakes the student has made, but it is best to start with a compliment.  Many students who are unfamiliar with conferencing will tense up and think they have done something wrong because the teacher has sat down next to them.

Teach to Student Needs
The author mentions three reliable teaching methods: guided practice, demonstration, and explanation with an example.  The teaching method used should be chosen based on the individual student's learning style. 

Link to the Future
Just like at the end of a mini-lesson,  you need to link your teaching to the future.  Restate your teaching point and give the student an example of how they can apply it in the future.  If you have a more capable (or older) student, have the child restate what was learned and how he/she may apply it in the future.

I know the value of conferences because I have used them in writing and (at times) in reading.  My worry is that it becomes so easy to target the students who are really struggling and those that just need a little help and guidance.  I need to stay focused on the purpose of conferencing.  I'm glad that my workshop format will allow conference time to be built-in. 

My questions about math conferencing:
1.  Do you schedule your conferences or just meet with students as you see fit?

2.  If you do have a schedule, do you allow any room for flexibility?

3.  How are you keeping records of your math conferences?

4.  How are you planning to fit conferences into your math block?


Beth said...

Thanks for linking up. I am interested in reading more about your 4 rotations idea (and am heading over now to check it out) I too, am worried about how it will all fit in.
Thinking of Teaching

The Teacher's Work Room said...

I am fairly new to blogging, but it is has turned out to be such as great resource in my teaching. I am now following your blog. It's great!

Tracey Schimke said...

I have an award for you! Stop by my blog to retrieve it!!
Third Grade All Stars

Amanda said...

I have to tell you that math conferences are not something I did much of last year. Obviously I talked to students when I was with them in group, and sometimes worked one on one with students who really needed it, but I don't ever think I went in thinking "okay, math conference time". I did keep notes on my lesson plan of observations I noticed with the student. I definitely would keep an eye on them, and then address any issues I saw. I definitely need to reread this chapter. To me, I see reading and writing conferences as ongoing because both subjects are so abstract. Math I feel is more concrete, and easier to zero in on what's going on. Where I could see the best benefit for math conferences would be problem solving. What do you think? Like I said... this concept is soo soo new to me.

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