Guided Math Conferences, by Laney Sammons
Since publishing Guided Math, Laney has continued to write and publish additional books to support the Guided Math framework. In January of this year, she released Guided Math Conferences, and that is the book I am writing about today. My current focus for personal professional development and research is the use of accountable talk in math instruction. So when I saw that Laney had a new book on conferring, I snapped it up! It did not disappoint.
Let me first say that even if you do not teach using the Guided Math or workshop approach, there is still much to be learned from this book. Throughout the book, Sammons addresses the fact that not all teachers use the Guided Math structure and provides suggestions for implementing math conferences regardless of your instructional setting.
Buried deep in the book, I found this gem of a quote that sums up the value of conferring with students: “When teachers confer with students, student thinking becomes more visible–to teachers and to the students themselves.”
In Guided Math Conferences, Sammons provides a compelling, research-based argument for making math conferences a priority in your classroom, citing the emphasis on increased rigor and critical thinking skills, the focus on the CCSSM Standards for Mathematical Practice, the value of formative assessment, and the importance of student learning goals, among other things. As with all of her books, though, she addresses the practical aspects of implementation, with chapters that tackle the most common reasons why conferring does not take place (time and managing the other students during conferencing) and provide step-by-step instructions for managing conferences, including helpful forms for recording conference notes.
You may be thinking, “I do small-group instruction. Why do I need conferencing, too?” Sammons covers that early on in the book, comparing and contrasting the math conference with a math interview and small-group instruction. Later in the book, she also describes the connection between conferring and small-group instruction and explains that the conferring process compliments small-group instruction by providing insight into the needs of students and data for grouping.
When you’re ready to get started, she outlines the structure of a guided math conference and explains the different types of conferences. That’s right! Conferences are not one-size-fits-all. Snapshots from a variety of grade levels provide glimpses into the different types of conferences.
Like all of my other Laney Sammons books, this one will soon be dog-eared and worn. It is a book you will continue to use and reuse as your refine your teaching practices.
And now for the best news! Laney has graciously agreed to provide a signed copy of her book to the winner of my giveaway! My sincerest thanks to Laney and Shell Education for their support. Please be sure you fulfill the requirements for each entry–I will check the validity of entries before awarding the prize.
Ready for the next great book? Head on over to Beyond Traditional Math!