It’s important to meet with students during math workshop. Here is where you get to know your students more directly and individually. It is where you can personalize instruction and really build relationships. This is where you help your students really understand math!
There are two different ways you can meet with students during math workshop. You can meet with students via guided math groups or by conferring individually. This typically takes place during the guided math portion. However, it can occur at any point during the day.
Conferring with Students
Conferring with students is typically a shorter amount of time than guided math groups. Teachers will divide up the names of the students to meet with a handful each day so that the entire class has been met with each week. Every student is met with, regardless of their level of understanding. The meets with students for about 5-10 minutes each and then moves on to another student in the classroom. Since this is during the guided math portion of math workshop, the other students are working independently or are in centers.
The Structure of Conferring
Research Student Understanding
The teacher begins by observing the work of the student and then moves into an interview to understand more about what the student is doing or trying to do. The purpose here is to gain more information about the thinking process of the student and their understanding.
Once the teacher understands what the student is doing, s/he will name specifically what the student has done and link it directly to the language of the standards. Then gently remind the student to continue doing this in his or her future work. By starting this way, students feel confident that they are doing math right.
Decide What is Needed
At this time, you have to decide what teaching point is needed. This could be something related to the research you just did, a previous observation, or a current concept. You may want to alter a current strategy or process. Here is where you decide what you want to teach and how you will teach it.
Teach to Student’s Needs
This is the most important part of the conference and likely the longest part. You will take the teaching point that you decided upon and use a demonstration, guided practice, or explicit teaching (telling and showing) to correct or extend the student’s understanding and ability to successfully complete the task. It’s really important that you are giving specific feedback and guiding the student like a coach would to help develop a partnership.
Link to the Future
This last part of conferencing with the student is like the beginning. You’re naming again what the student has done and reminding him or her to apply it in the future. This is a last-minute effort to help the student remember (and apply!) the strategy you just taught.
Guided Math Groups
Guided math groups are very similar to one-on-one conferences, except that it meets with a group of students instead of just one. The teacher will generally gather students who all need to work on a similar concept or skill for that day (or week) and then focus on the learning needs of the group. The group changes as the needs, skills, and/or concepts change.
There is no specific structure to the group meetings, other than selecting specific teaching points and using assessments (both formal and informal) to drive the needs of the group.
Recording Observations When You Meet with Students
Regardless of whether you confer with students individually or with them in small guided math groups, your observations should be recorded. This is important for child study meetings, future placement in groups, RTI, and other assessments. This can easily be done through any assessment form whether it’s one you quickly create or find online.
Having conferences with students every day may not be possible, but it should be something you aim for regularly- at least with your struggling students. Alternatively, you can meet with students in guided math groups to assess and assist with their needs to help students move forward in math.
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Want to read more about Math Workshop? Check out these additional “Everything You Need to Know to Run Math Workshop Successfully” Posts:
- Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Run Math Workshop (Intro to what math workshop is and it’s benefits)
- Why Your Math Workshop Model is Not Flexible (and How to Fix It!) (The math workshop structure and your options to being flexible)
- How to Teach Your Math Opening Like a Pro (All about the math openings of math workshop)
- How to Take the Headache Out of Mini-Lessons in Math Workshop (All about the whole group component of math workshop)
- Make the Most Out of Guided Math (All about the guided math component of math workshop)
- Are Guided Math Centers Really That Hard? (About the choices in guided math centers)
- 3 Super Easy Alternatives to Math Centers (About alternatives to math centers during guided math)
- The Importance of Meeting with Students During Math Workshop (All about one-to-one conferring and guided math groups)
- Lesson Closures for Math Workshop (Ideas for how to close your math workshop)
- How to Rock Your Math Workshop for Ultimate Student Growth (Tips for increasing student growth in math workshop)