Whenever I talk about Guided Math, I get A LOT of excellent follow-up questions. I am excited for this blog series and the opportunity to tackle some of the most frequently asked questions. We’re starting with a question that, once answered, removes the biggest mental hurdle teachers have when considering Guided Math in their Classroom. Are you ready? Let’s answer it: Can Guided Math work with my curriculum?
Guided Math is Not a Curriculum
Teachers often worry that having a mandated curriculum means that they cannot “do” Guided Math in their classroom. This is typically based on misconceptions about what Guided Math actually is.
Guided Math is not a script that tells you what to teach to each group and when. Guided Math cannot be packaged this way because it’s not a curriculum. It cannot be purchased. Guided Math is a framework for how to deliver curriculum content.
What’s beautiful about the Guided Math framework is that it can work with almost any curriculum. What on earth do I mean by that?
Guided Math takes our curriculum or scope and sequence and uses it in a way that is responsive to the students in front of us. We’re not modifying or extending a single lesson to teach to all students on the same day. Instead, we are meeting students where they are in their understanding of a topic and building from that place.
How To Use Curriculum within the Framework
Let’s imagine we are about to begin teaching coins in second grade. Instead of starting with lesson one of our curriculum and spending time and effort differentiating EACH lesson as we progress, we can approach it differently. First, we can assess our students to determine where they currently are in their understanding of money and coins. From there, we will look at our curriculum and decide which lesson will support which students at this time.
Some students will be further along in their understanding and ready for lesson four of the unit. Some will be ready to start with lesson one of the unit. Others may need to build prerequisite skills prior to beginning the unit in order to be successful. This is how we can build our small groups.
Students progress through the unit at their own pace, and because we are working in small groups, we can provide more targeted instruction that will help our students make bigger gains.
When we have students who are further along in their understanding and make it through the lessons in our unit, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily move on to the next unit with them. Instead of going further, this is our opportunity to go deeper into the content with them.
When Does Guided Math Not Work?
Unfortunately, some teachers find themselves in a position where they have little to no flexibility with how they teach their curriculum. When teachers are forced to read from a manual and their grade level team is expected to teach a specific lesson on a given day and then turn the page, Guided Math is not feasible.
What I most recommend to these teachers is that you and your colleagues work to advocate for change. Discuss the needs of your students and how a one-size-fits-all curriculum approach is a disservice to ALL students. These shifts usually take time, but don’t give up! A book cannot tell you about the students in front of you, and the expertise teachers bring to the content should be seen as your school’s biggest asset.
If you’re looking for more information about how to start using Guided Math with your curriculum, CLICK HERE!
I hope this first part of our Guided Math Q&A was helpful! If you have any other questions about Guided Math, please ask them in the comments and I will try to answer, or perhaps even dedicate a new post in the series to it!
Are you looking to learn EVEN more about making Guided Math work in your classroom?
Be sure to get on the waitlist for my online professional development course called Guided Math Academy.
Guided Math Academy is an on-demand (think Netflix style) course for teachers who want to learn how to teach ALL their students WITHOUT adding hours of prep! It includes a step-by-step blueprint and incredible bonuses to help you AND your students.
This course opens every June. Be sure to get on the waitlist so you don’t miss out!