Anyone doing Guided Math? Our school is looking at implementing it and I would love your thoughts. We currently teach based on standards, but do have access to Everyday Math curriculum if that would be helpful. Thanks!

I did guided math last year and think I am going to do it again this year. We use Investigations. I had 2-3 groups. I always did a pre-assessment OR I would have the kids all do the lesson together for the first lesson or two (whole class) then I could determine who needed reteaching and who needed an extension. I did this for each unit. My guided groups were flexible and changed based on the concepts being taught. While one group worked with me, the other kids would either work on fact practice, play a game or do the activity that went with my lesson. I want to do something similar this year, but my class is nowhere near ready. I am still working on teaching them some games so that they CAN work alone! It started out that I was moving very slow and I felt more behind by winter break than I ever had before... however, by the end of the year the class was SO MUCH FURTHER than I have ever had a class go.. I even ended up adding units onto the end of the year that went into concepts covered in the next grade level because we totally covered their grade levels! (3rd and 4th.) I alternated which group I saw first each day, and after they saw me, they would work on the worksheet page or game that went with that lesson. Then I would try to see the other group. Sometimes I only met with one group, which is why it seemed so slow, but it all evened out in the end.

Nothing gets results like Excel math...and no I don't work for the company (although they should pay me after all the referrals I've gotten them.) I have been using it for about 15 years. The kids like it, there's virtually no prep, and the biggest thing is the kids really retain what you've taught them. My test scores look really nice with Excel as well, though that's not my main concern.

Saxon vs. Excel Yes, I have used Saxon quite a bit. I will try to be as objective as possible, including feedback from other teachers. Criticisms of Excel: too much pure calculation, too much on the page for the ADD kids to take in, difficult to bring in new students since it spirals (Saxon would be the same), boring looking worksheets (B&W, no pics), no open-ended PBL type math problems (making graphs, real world application, etc.), lessons are disjointed jumping from concept to concept (Saxon is similar), no book to look back and get help for yourself My comebacks for the criticisms: Calculation builds math fluency. When students grasp basic calculations and algorithms, they are able to naturally apply these skills to other problem solving situations. I've seen it happen over and over with my students. Also, most people who think Excel is calculation heavy have never used it. As the year progresses, students are asked to solve exceedingly more difficult word problems. For the ADDers, simply take a piece of construction paper, cut out a hole, and have them work problems in the hole as they move it around the page. My experience is they get used to the "overwhelming" nature of the worksheet after a while. Bringing in new kids is hard, and it would be like that with all spiral programs including Saxon. I just try to give the kid a peer tutor, allow them ample time to catch up before grading them, and encourage them a lot. Boring? Who cares. The kids like it and they learn math. Open-ended "big" problems. Supplement. No math program is perfect. The skipping around of concepts for the lessons is actually a strength. The kids never get tired of one type of problem and it adds to the spiral nature of the instruction. Here's the biggest thing about Excel...the kids REALLY know how to do ALL of the math you've taught them all year long, even when the big test rolls around. No book? I give my kids a copy of the glossary that comes with Excel. In a way, it makes the kids stronger in math without the book because it forces them to recall the concepts on their own. The math really sinks in. Saxon is my second favorite math program, but here's how it lacks compared to Excel: 1. No check answers. Excel has a number to go with each set of 3 or 4 problems. The kids add their answers to the 3 or 4 problems. If the total matches the check answer, they can feel reasonably confident their answers are correct. INSTANT FEEDBACK! They know when they don't get it, when to go back and recheck, and when to ask for help. 2. Saxon, until you get to the book level (I believe its 54) is very weak on daily practice. They just don't give the kids enough problems for it to sink in. Once you hit the book, it gets to be almost too much for most kids. The guided practice takes some kids over an hour to complete. Most kids get the Excel GP done in about 25 minutes once they get used to it. 3. Saxon higher levels...the kids must copy all the problems to their own paper. I personally think this is a waste of time. They mess up on the copying part and could be doing math in the meantime. 4. The kids write on their own papers for each instruction part in Excel. As you teach the new concept, kids have the paper with them and do the problems on their own paper. 5. Saxon books have no built in homework component. Excel has review problems 4 out of every 5 lessons. Each 5th lesson is designed to go along with the tests. 6. Excel lends itself to math groups. Students can complete most of the GP before learning that day's lesson. Thus the teacher can begin working with one group while the other group(s) are doing their GP. I have a ton more to say...message me if you want more. I love Excel because it works...bottom line. And there's virtually no prep for the teacher which allows me to concentrate my prep time on other subjects. Tim www.timbedley.com www.excelmath.com

It doesn't seem like excel math is the kind of thing one teacher can purchase alone, but needs to be purchased by the school. I think for my class of 14, it would be $140 dollars, or for a class of 25, $250 and would need to be purchased again the next year... that just doesn't seem like a good value for my money. I can give the kids equally uninteresting worksheets that are self correcting from a $20 book of repoducibles. A good way to do a self-correcting worksheet is to have the kind where the problems form the answer to a riddle. Scholastic makes a lot of these. The kids need to get the right answers to have the right word for the riddle. When I do guided math (In 3rd and 4th grade) the kids have "packets" they work on individually. I have MANY packets pre-made (enough for each student for the first several) and they LOVE working their way through them. I have fact practice packets in addition, then subtraction. Then they do addition w/out regrouping, then with, then 3-4 digit addition, then move to subtraction, etc. I also have multiplication and division packets. Last year I had students work through to the last long division packet, which is hard (5-6 digits divided by 3 digits.) Sometimes I create a packet just for a unit, and last year also had three fraction packs, and the kids worked through those. I had 3 and my most advanced students got through three, but most students did 2. And of course I assess the kids first and place them in the correct packet! Next time I think I will create a certificate for each packet. I saw another teacher in my school do this and the kids LOVED it and were very proud of their certificates. This system has worked for me and every page of those packets are self correcting because they have to color something, figure a riddle, make their way through a maze, connect dots, or something like that. I have answer sheets for each one already prepared as well so I can easily check them! Some kids get sick of the riddles and just want to do the problems. I say ok, and then just check the work. However, I would say only about 10 minutes a day was working on a packet (I asked for at least one page, but many kids WANTED to do lots of them and work their way through them all so they did more and spend more of their independent time on them.) The rest of my guided math time was spent doing games, investigations with manipulatives, etc.

Thank you tbed63. I have used Saxon before and was wondering how Excel math compared. So Excel math does not take an inquiry or guided math approach, right? I would be interested in the Scott Foresman Investigations math, but they don't have a true 6th grade curriculum (it goes k-5). I have read things that say the 5th grade curriculum is suitable for 6th grade, but I really don't understand how that is possible. I am not sure if they have a similar program that is for grades 6+.

I don't think Saxon or the Exel are inquiry based or constructivist based on the sample pages I looked at all all. The middle school program that is compatible with Investigations is called Connected Math. http://connectedmath.msu.edu/ The older edition of Investigations was for two grades so the last book was 5/6, but it was not meant for 6th grade classrooms in general, but the book says it is for schools with low students, special education, ELL, etc. The new edition only goes K-5. We are going to use Connected Math for 6th grade.

More on Excel ...Don't say that too fast ; ) This is a good conversation. Well, as I said before, there's a lot to explain about Excel. If you've never used it, it's very easy to see the 'faults' in it. The very veteran staff at my school, who have used a wide variety of math programs, all love Excel. It may not look great, but it really gets results. With regard to whether or not it's inquiry based or constructivist... It's definitely not inquiry based...that's totally true. Constructivism is a paradigm for teaching and learning. So Excel cannot really be constructivist or non-constructivist ; ) It is up to the teacher who uses it whether or not he/she takes a constructivist approach. I definitely lean toward the constructivist bent rather than direct instruction. You are right that many inexpensive workbooks use self-checking...sort of. Without getting too detailed, the difference is that the kids are actually doing math to check their work rather than solving a puzzle. This can be a positive or negative depending on how you look at it. I love investigations. I use them as culminating activities rather than as my daily math. These suggestions for investigations look promising. I'm going to look into them. BTW, Excel costs $10 per kid per year. You don't need to buy if for any minimum number of kids, though it's impossible to buy if for many exact numbers especially between 2 and 9. The TE is only about $30...can't remember exactly. If you compare it to other curriculums, it's actually very inexpensive. There are about 150 lessons per grade level, available K-6. I've heard the kinder is very weak, though I've never taught that level. I believe so strongly in Excel Math, that if there comes a year when my school won't pay for it, I'll find the money somewhere or buy it out of pocket. I can't imagine trying to teach math without Excel. I wish someone would create an "Excel" for language arts skills. I'd buy it in a heartbeat! Tim

In terms of guided math, I'm trying to implement it with my first graders. We just got into the first section of our Everyday Math books, and I'll group kids into a low, middle, and high group. I'll teach the whole-group lesson that EDM has, then kids will go off to a rotation. I'll pull the lowest kids first, then middle, then high. While one group is with me, the other two will go between the lesson's worksheet (in the student journal) and fact practice until a game for reinforcement.

I just started doing guided math using EDM. It's working really well so far. I have 4 groups. I am doing a whole group lesson - 10-15 minutes. Then I assign pages in the journal. I have been sort of floating between the groups, mostly staying at the lowest group, because we just started. When they get more settled, I will do another little mini-lesson with each group at least once a week. Also, I am only doing groups 2 or 3 days a week; on Monday I will do a whole group lesson so that I can then just assign the journal pages throughout the week and they can have lots of time to work on them. I am allowing them to help each other and work together, but only within their groups - this is cutting down on cheating and low kids getting the answers from high kids. When they are done, they can play whatever card game goes with that unit. Also, I am reducing the amount of problems for the lowest group. It is too stressful for them to get everything done, and I used to send it home for homework if they didn't finish, but these kids aren't playing around, they are just really behind. I feel better about that.

MissFroggy, how is Connected Math set up? When I looked at the site I see all of these different units, but they appear to be in different books. Are these books consumable, or can they be used year after year? If those books are not consumable, does the series come with a workbook or a blackline master? Sorry for all of the questions

I don't teach 6th grade, so I am not sure. (I was also not on the committee which chose the curriculum!) But, if it's like the Investigations at all, each book is a unit. It is the teacher's guide for the unit, so no, they are not consumables. There should be either a workbook for the kids, or a book of blackline masters or a CD Rom. I looked at the website and the materials are in the Components of... tab. There is a section for teachers, students, additional resources, etc.