Math Books That Will Change Your Teaching Blog Hop

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.
This week I am participating in a blog hop with a group of amazing educational bloggers, and we are sharing professional resources that have changed our teaching.  There are so many great books to choose from, and you will read about many of my favorites along the blog hop.  After reading my post, simply click on the link at the bottom of the page to follow the trail to the next stop.  Oh! And did I mention that we are each giving away a copy of our book?  So be sure to visit each stop and enter the giveaway!

Guided Math Conferences, by Laney Sammons

In 2009, Laney Sammons’ book Guided Math was published and, quite honestly, it changed the way we think about teaching math. In this groundbreaking book, Sammons outlined a framework for teaching math that was based on tried-and-true literacy instructional practices.  I think the group impacted the most has been primary teachers (K-2), who often felt very confident teaching reading, but usually less so teaching math.  By connecting a process they were familiar with, Guided Reading, to math instruction, she empowered teachers in a whole new way.  As a math instructional coach working with K-2 teachers, I felt I was speaking their language when discussing Guided Math.  I saw their confidence grow, right along with the achievement and confidence of their young mathematicians.  It was, therefore, an absolute thrill to meet Laney at the NCTM Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans this past April.  In addition to being an inspirational author, she is also a genuinely warm person.

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ready for the next great book?  Head on over to Beyond Traditional Math!

Beyond Traditional Math


  1. Positively Learning

    LOVE reading about this! I just read Guided Math last year because my intervention group structure wasn’t working for my students. It helped tremendously! Would love to learn more about conferences – thank you!! Jen

  2. jpank

    I would love to work more conferencing in with my kiddos. My special ed kiddos aren’t always confident enough to share their thinking so it is hard to address their misconceptions when I don’t know their thinking process.

  3. Joanne

    You are amazing!! I have added many of your recommendations to my professional library and have found them to be a great resource. Thanks for all your hard work.

  4. Jessica

    I would love a copy! I’ve seen the books so much this summer, but I haven’t delved into them . . . yet! Looking forward to reading them!

    What I Have Learned

  5. Carla Hunter

    I agree that younlearn a great deal when talking with students about their thinking. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

  6. Renee S

    I think conferencing can help to see what misconceptions kids might have.

  7. Adriana Wilsey

    I thinking conferencing is important because kit gives them ownership!

  8. Angie Nelson

    Thank you for sharing this amazing book. I have been fighting with math instruction for years. I want to read this book and start math conferences with new second graders this year.

  9. Tamara Moore

    I am excited to see if this is similar take on math talk. I think math talk is very effective and hoping math conferences are an extension of what I am already using. Thanks!

  10. TheElementary MathManiac

    I love the results I get when I take time to sit down and talk with kids about their math! I don’t do it as often as I should but would love to see what other ideas this book has to offer!

    The Math Maniac

  11. Lisa Marshall

    It would fit into my instruction.

  12. Julie Sawyer

    Always need to find out what the kids are thinking!

  13. heatherlg

    I am a first year, 4th grade math teacher. I am just trying to establish my math routine and planning. I think math conferencing would help me identify misconceptions, as well as great ideas that student’s have, that I could share with the rest of the class. I enjoy learning along with my students, and love that conferencing helps us all learn together.

  14. Mona Starr

    I’m loving this! Your support has helped tremendously with my work as a math coach. Conferencing is so powerful and her other books have been cram packed with helpful info. I have been wanting to read this one!

  15. 1stgradefireworks

    You are always my “GO TO” for math questions! THANKS! Wendy [email protected]

  16. Sarah M

    Fabulous book! I read it this summer and was inspired to conference even more with my students. I will be referencing it often. Loved reading your post–so exciting that you were able to meet Laney! Thanks so much for sharing…


  17. Disneymum (Kristi)

    I will be conferring with my students during one rotation of guided math like I do with writer’s workshop

  18. Jamie Riggs

    This is an amazing book! Great post, Donna!

    Jamie aka MissMathDork!

  19. Lauren Holley

    I think it would make me a more effective math teacher. It could also give the kids the confidence in math that so many are lacking.

  20. Frankie Durham

    Having moved schoolscand grade levels, I NEED these resources! Here’s hoping!!!!!

  21. Mrs. Carlson's 2nd Grade Classs

    I have read the Guided Math book and it helped me to get started with guided math last year. So, I would love to win this one to continue my growth as a math teacher.

  22. Greg Coleman

    Great post! Having math conferences with your students is a powerful teaching strategy.

    Mr Elementary Math Blog

  23. Tchur8

    I think the conferencing with students is essential. It’s just another tool for them to take ownership of their learning rather than echoing/agreeing with a peer. You get a better idea where each and every one of your students are in the learning processe of the concept being taught. Would love to win a copy of this book! Thanks for the opportunity and all your great ideas/materials that you share.

  24. The Teacher Studio

    I love that Sammons is focusing on the language of conferring…the gentle coaching that we, as teachers, need to do to gradually help students build understanding is truly an art form. I have all of her other books–and this one would complete my set!

  25. kmanzano

    I just found Laney Sammons’ first book and I am trying like crazy to finish reading it before school starts! So I can’t wait to implement what I’ve learned about instruction and them I can focus on meaningful conferences.

  26. Jennifer Brown

    As a lover of guided reading I find doing guided math groups extremely tough. I don’t seem to have enough time…but I am trying…

  27. irbymd

    This is something I am actually trying to do this year. This would be a great resource!

  28. Julie

    I have a lot to learn about conferencing with my students!

  29. DeLaina Ellis

    I would love to read this book as I am implementing Math Workshop for the first time in class this year. Conferencing is the part I feel the least confident about.

  30. Amy M

    I would love to begin conferencing with my students this year! Thank you for the opportunity 🙂

  31. Erin R

    I am committed to using Guided Math in my Math program this year. I think that conferencing is a huge part of Guided Math. Always looking for ways to help me help my students

  32. Jessica

    I am happy to have found your blog.

  33. Anonymous

    Would love to add conferencing to my math stations.

  34. Carla Hoff

    I work in an intervention setting; conferences help me pinpoint student strengths and capitalize on those. Thanks for sharing this great book!

  35. Mr Shipley

    Would love to use this during intervention and centers

  36. joalderete

    I am going to try to work in math conferences during my longer math times on Wed-Fri. I think it’s a great way to see what the students’ can do and reinforce their learning.

  37. Christen

    I bought this book, too and have been thinking about how I can implement math better in my classroom this year.

  38. Tammy Y

    Looking forward to new conferencing ideas!

  39. Marie Madden

    I would love to read more about using this strategy.

  40. Morgan

    I can see conferencing becoming a weekly ritual with my students, especially looking at their problem solving perseverance and strategies.

  41. Doreen Bednarski

    I would love to do more conferencing . NYS modules do not leave room for anything except following the script.

  42. Courtney

    I have never thought about conferencing with math. I suppose I’d do it during math centers, it would add a whole new level of assessment to my math teaching! I’d love to see what ‘s. Simmons suggests.

    🙂 Courtney

  43. Lisa

    We have changed the way we do math this year. No strict curriculum and now we have the opportunity for hands on and whole group/small group that we were not able to do previously. This book would be perfect. If I don’t win it, I’m going to have to buy it!

  44. Sarah Larson

    This would be great to include into my daily instruction because it would help the students learn from each other. It would also give me an idea of what my students are thinking about so that I can better guide the lesson to meet their needs and be fun at the same time.

  45. Kelly

    We have math centers in the afternoon with all ten students. It would be great to work on conferencing with the students during that time so I could see where all are achieving and struggling.

  46. Laura Hutchins

    Thank you for this book suggestion! I will definitely be including conferencing into my math workshop routine.

  47. Stephanie J

    I am wanting to change the way I teach my kindergarteners math. I am really wanting to do small groups and this would be an excellent resource for me.

  48. Huskergirl

    I would love to learn more about Guided Math and using conferences with my kiddos. I can’t wait to check out this book!

  49. Mujahid Hussain

    Fabulous book! I read it this summer and was inspired to conference even more with my students. I will be referencing it often. Loved reading your post–so exciting that you were able to meet Laney ! Thanks so much for sharing…


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