Students at The Learning Center Charter School are experiencing a new approach to math this school year, termed Guided Math, due in large part to second grade teacher, Stephanie Hopper. In spring of 2016, she began researching math curriculum. The more she researched, the more she realized that no magical math curriculum exists. She saw that it’s not the curriculum but the approach to math that better meets the needs of the school’s diverse population of students.
Guided Math is now what kindergarten through fifth grade students at the charter school do each day. Math class begins with a math warm up and is soon followed by a whole group mini lesson which focuses on a specific math standard. After that, students work in smaller groups following a rotation schedule according to STACK. STACK stands for 1) Small group with the teacher, 2) Technology, 3) Apply what they have learned; 4) Create using critical thinking skills through math journaling, and 5) Kinesthetic, or in other words, hands-on games and activities. These rotations allow the students to experience direct instruction as well as student-centered activities and hands-on learning. The teacher is able to work with small groups of students to further enhance the direct instruction and work closely with those who are struggling and those who are ready to be further challenged. After the daily rotation is complete, the class comes back together as a whole and reflects on the lessons of the day.
Ms. Hopper says that student response to Guided Math has been great and is a perfect addition to the school’s Four-Blocks English Language Arts Program. Fourth grade teacher, Chris Conroy says, “My experience with Guided Math so far is that students are much more engaged in their work. They enjoy helping their fellow group members and love the rotations. The Guided Math approach gives students the opportunity to learn the math standards in many different ways and allows the teacher to monitor each individual child and provide differentiated instruction and lessons. It’s a win-win learning experience!”