Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Value of Guided Math Conferences

I am linking up again for the book study for the book, Guided Math Conferences. This post is a little behind. I guess life interrupted me! LOL!

I will be posting two posts this week since I am behind! This post is about the Value of Conferences. 

Of course, we have all heard the term Rigor. If you have not I am a little surprised because between the Common Core and every teacher resource, professional development and article, Rigor is mentioned at least a zillion times. 

Guided math conferences provide us with the information needed to make our math instruction more rigorous and meaningful to each of our littles. Through one on one conferences, we are able to see what they are successful in and what they need a little tweak with. 

One must remember that being proficient in math does not mean they have the right answer it means that they can think critically about math. This is where the rigor enters their little world.

Thinking critically about math is when your littles can:
*consider questions and problems
         *take information to form conclusions
                    *think open-mindedly, think outside the box
                                                      *communicate effectively with each other to share their findings and find solutions 
 Shen we conference with them, we are able to model this! Modeling is so important for our littles to be exposed to on a consistent basis. They need to see it not just be told how to do it!

Learning Through Their Eyes

It is important for us as educators to be able to see the world of Mathematics through the eyes of our kiddos. When we are able to sit and reflect on the day and understand their thinking behind their thoughts and processes that is when we will grow as educators. Keep in mind that you can not see their thoughts through tests or homework. This is learned through conferencing and observing.

Guided Math Conferences for Formative Assessment

Formative assessment provides us with a snapshot of what our kiddos know and do not know. it provides us with information of what they need to work on and whether or not they are understanding the processes that are being taught. It is through formative assessment that we are able to tailor our instruction to meet the individual needs of the students. But it is also a tool for us to use to reflect upon our own teaching and whether or not we were effective.

Conferencing is a great formative assessment. Here we are sitting one on one, listening and observing as they proceed to problem solve in front of us. We are able to model when they need assistance and to provide positive reinforcement as well as creating goals to reach based on their abilities.

Self Assessment

Self assessment is probably one of the most valuable tools we can instill in our students. Conferences provide a safe environment for them to look at themselves and assess whether or not they are understanding or at their best. This will provide the framework for goal creating, meaningful goals!

Features of self assessment:
* Teachers and students discuss expectations of learning
* Students critique their own understanding and work
* Students use feedback to revise their work and to take steps to increase their comprehension

Conferencing provides them with the safe environment to really take a look at their abilities and create meaningful goals that will enrich them as mathematicians. They will learn how to look at their work and assess it honestly and meaningful.

There are 5 strategies for effective guided math conferences for assessment. They are:
1. help students develop a clear understanding of their learning goals and how they will know when they meet those goals.
2. Guide the conversation with questions to elicit evidence of student learning, both content and process, and/or misconceptions and gaps in foundational knowledge and skills.
3. Encourage students to reflect on their mathematical understanding so that they assume ownership of their learning.
4. Provide specific feedback to let students know both what they are doing well and what will move them forward in their mathematical learning.
5. Use the information gathered during the conferences to identify a teaching point to move student learning forward.

These are found on pages 44-46 in the Guided Math Conference Book. 


What is feedback? Feedback is effective information that helps us reach our goals. It should be nonthreatening and helpful. Effective feedback does not cause the students to hyperventilate and go into cardiac arrest!
Remember these little tidbits about effective feedback:
* It should be clear and focused. It should be understandable.
* It should be user friendly
* It should be honest and respectful
* It should be given in a timely manner- not 2 months later
* It should not think for the students it should prompt them to do the thinking
* It is differentiated
*It should follow instruction so that it can focus on what they understand
* It should align with the goals
* It should address the mathematical process not the student personally
* It should provide the students with things they can immediately use to increase their performance

Goals, accountability, Mathematical communication and building relationships

These are all important aspects of the Guided Math Conference!
Goals, goals, goals. There have been a lot of talk about goals. These conferences provide us with the opportunity to help the student establish and attain their own personal mathematical goals.
Accountability- students during the conferences are expected to do more then just solve the problem. There is communication between the student and the teacher. They demonstrate their ability and knowledge of the mathematical processes and ideas.
During the conferences, the teacher is able to take a moment and model and teach new steps or steps that need some more practice. 
Encouraging Mathematical communication is an important aspect. The students are given the opportunity in a nonthreatening environment to share and explain their mathematical thinking. They are able to gain verbal fluency and learn what is effective math talk. 

Building relationships is one of the most important aspects. The students are forming a relationship not only with the teacher but with math itself. Math is no longer the dreaded subject. It is through the positive relationships that are formed through these conferences where all students will take risks and improve their mathematical abilities. Relationships are created through respect and praising.

Wow, a lot of information but it is valuable information regarding Guided Math Conferences!

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  1. I truly enjoy doing guided math. At our school we have been doing it for years. This year I'm going to model it after the Daily 5 rotations. I'm excited to start!! Thanks so much for sharing such great information!!!

    Warmest Wishes,

    1. I am very interested in how to model it after Daily 5 rotations! This will be my first year with Guided Math and my first year in first grade. I have taught 20 years in Kindergarten. Would love to pick your brain about this!!!!!!