Guided Teaching Structure Is Used To Improve Mathematical Proficiency

Washington Middle School eighth graders, Johnathan Vaughn and Nick Zaso, work in a guided math station during Rachel Frisbee's class.

“I want you to learn the math skills but I also want you to be able to solve your own problem as a team,” said Washington Middle School math teacher, Rachel Frisbee. “How can we do that without asking me for help?”

“You could ask one of the other groups how they are doing the problem,” said a student.

“Yes, that’s a great way talking with your partner or with another group. You could also look at your notes or your exponents foldable to help you out. I want you to talk to each other and work together to solve the problems at each station.”

Frisbee prepared her students for their guided math stations on exponents and scientific notations where they were practicing converting numbers from scientific notation to standard as well as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers in scientific notation using their properties of exponents.

Guided Math is a JPS district-wide initiative. Guided math is a structure for teaching math where the teacher supports each child’s mathematical proficiency in small groups. The small groups provide powerful possibilities for reaching children where they enter and taking them to the next level.

The stations are standard-based, rigorous and engaging. Frisbee uses guided math bi-weekly in her class to help fill in gaps in student understanding, allow students time to process and practice, and also challenge students to take their mathematical abilities to the next level.

“Students love to talk with each other so guided math gives them a structured environment to have a conversation,” said Frisbee. “We are still in the training and practicing portion of guided math where students are taught the expectations and procedures of the station and they complete the station with my supervision and guidance.

The goal is to eventually have students complete a station, productively and on-task, without needing my guidance. Once we’ve reached that point, I will be able to work with smaller groups of students on very specific skills.”

The guided math stations for this unit included Jigsaw and Match-It.

In the Jigsaw station, the students received 16 squares and had to match pieces together, which form equivalent statements, for instance, the expression is on one piece and they have to find the number 3,000 to match those pieces together. In Match-It, students were given 24 cards and had to match two equivalent statements.

Many cards had matches that were very similar to one another so students had to attend to precision as they simplified expressions to find the correct match. Each station was completed with a partner, which allowed students to discuss their thought process and allow them to agree to disagree with their partner’s thoughts.

An answer key was provided for each station. Students receive immediate feedback on their work by self-checking their math problems.

Oreana Fisher, a student at Washington School, enjoys guided math because, “It lets us complete the work at our own speed. I am also more comfortable talking and working with a partner than talking in front of the whole class.”