What is guided math?



Guided Math is a structure for teaching whereby a teacher supports each child’s development of mathematical proficiency at increasing levels of difficulty, within the context of a small group.  It is premised on the idea that working with children in small groups, provides powerful possibilities for reaching all children where they enter and taking them to the next level.  In Guided Math groups, students engage in standards-based, rigorous, engaging meaning making learning opportunities where the teacher focuses on a particular concept, strategy or skill. Teachers facilitate this learning through hands-on, scaffolded conversations and intensive questioning.

Guided math provides a structure for teachers to differentiate instruction so they can reach and teach every student by:

  • Creating flexible small groups that allow students to work in their zone of proximal development so they can learn exactly what they need to know at their instructional level
  • Creating activities that tap into student’s individual learning styles and interests so they stay engaged
  • Providing immediate feedback so the student can adjust their work
  • Questioning students in small groups so they have an opportunity to talk with their peers, ask questions and justify their mathematical thinking
  • Allowing teachers to re-teach, reinforce, expand and compact concepts, strategies and skills
  • Providing short lessons that emphasize conceptual understanding, procedural fluency or problem solving
  • Scaffolding lessons so that they can be taught at a concrete level, pictorial level or abstract level
  • Ultimately providing students with the self confidence they need to become successful mathematicians

Guided math is a proven instructional strategy that every teacher needs in their toolkit.  Dr. Nicki can provide you and your staff the strategies and tools needed to implement guided math in your school or district today.


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11 Responses to “What is guided math?”

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What a great definition of Guided Math! You have absolutely hit the target with your list of all the advantages for teachers and students when Guided Math groups are used on a regular basis in the classroom. It’s the ideal way to differentiate and it’s the best way to build positive attitudes about mathematics. Thanks for sharing so many impressive resources on your Math Blog, Nicki. This is one of the most valuable collection of ideas, materials, and resources I’ve seen.

Thank you Boyce. I think that Guided math is absolutely one of the best ways to build positive attitudes about math, and as the research tells us, this is so important in terms of student achievement. If students “think they can” they are more likely to keep trying until they really can! Guided Math groups help teachers to build positive dispositions towards math, which is one of the 5 elements of being mathematically proficient. So, I hope this blog provides a space for us to all talk about ways to continually build that proficiency in small groups.

The good blog very much was pleasant I will watch your news

Hi! I am studying to become a math teacher as well. Your practice reminds me a lot about New York’s “School of One,” which works with students in small group settings and aims at promoting differentiation just like your classroom strategy. Tell me, what are some of the ways you address different learning modalities? Also, what are some of the different assessments you use to decide how to group students, as well as to make various other pedagogical decisions?

Guided Math seem to be a logical way for teaching math. why aren’t all schools taking the measures to approach teaching math this way?

I agree. I hope the movement for using guided math groups keeps growing in schools.

Dr. Nicki

if you have any suggestions on how to implement guided maths to grade one level students that are actually at kg level and less plus are English second language learners or zero English learners, please do offer any tips. it is difficult and i would love to hear any suggestions you may have. thanks.

I would use the RTI guidelines (see posts). Also the SIOP stuff is great. Remember when teaching ELL’s you always want to have a language goal and a content goal. Here are some helpful links…

Click to access 9780941355841_CH1.pdf


Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki

Dr. Nikki,
I am an educational consultant (retired K-5 Director) working with a school on implementing Guided Math. I love your video and would like to use it as I introduce Guided Math to the staff. May I do this? Thanks for all of your wisdom that you share with teachers on using Guided Math. I love it!!

Absolutely! I am glad that you found it useful.

Happy Mathing,
Dr. Nicki

[…] I feel guided Math is an essential part of any Balanced Math program. I see the benefits first hand each time I incorporate this component into my lessons. If you are unfamiliar what Guided Math, this blogspot that has a fantastic definition: https://guidedmath.wordpress.com/what-is-guided-math/ […]

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