Flipping with Guided Math

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Guided Math Small Group
Small Group Instruction

Education is abuzz with talk of flipped learning.  Typically educators think of this new trend as the use of instructional videos created either by teachers or found online that students watch at home in lieu of an in-class lecture by the teacher.  The teacher follows-up on the lesson the next day by providing additional support for students and assigning some guided practice.  Sams and Bermann (2013) in a recent article in Educational Leadership expand on that notion, however, emphasizing that the idea of flipped learning is really all about how teachers can most effectively use their in-class time with their students.  Food for thought…

So—how does flipped learning fit with the Guided Math framework?  It seems to me that it is a perfect complement to the framework.  I see two possible options for flipping with Guided Math.

  • Teachers may choose to flip instruction in the typical manner.  Students watch a video at home. When they come to class the next day, they have already been introduced to the concept being taught.  As a natural extension of this strategy, teachers use their in-class time to support and deepen student learning with small-group instruction.  Using this format, teachers work closely with their students who are engaged in mathematical tasks based on the video lesson.  Students are encouraged to share their mathematical reasoning both with their peers and with the teacher.  This offers tremendous opportunities for informal assessment by the teacher and for self-assessment of their mathematical understanding by students.  Students spend more of their face time with the teacher applying and practicing the new mathematical ideas, while teachers can ensure that students have a strong understanding of them.

    Guided Math Small Group_2
    Support and deepen student learning
    • An alternative to the typical flipped learning method is assigning the viewing of an instructional video as an independent Math Workshop task the day before the content will be discussed in small-group lessons.  Watching instructional videos is ideal independent work.  Students are engaged in a worthwhile and educationally challenging activity that prepares them for their work with the teacher the next day.  At the very least, the videos preview what students will be learning—introducing mathematical vocabulary and making connections to previously learned concepts—thus making students more receptive to the next day’s lesson.  At best, they give learners a firm foundation upon which the small-group lesson builds.

With either approach, students may be asked to take notes, to summarize and reflect on what they learned, and/or to write at least one interesting question about the video that teachers can discuss during the small-group lesson. As a quick assessment of learning, students might be asked to self-assess their level of understanding after watching the video and record it on a index card.  Teachers can then quickly sort these cards to determine the composition of the groups for small-group lessons.  Students with similar levels of understanding meet together for follow-up instruction that targets their needs.

As is so often the case, creative teachers adapt teaching strategies to make them work for them. Who knows? You may find yourself flipping with Guided Math!


Laney Sammons, M.L.S, is a retired Teacher/Instructional Coach and currently acts as a Mathematics Education Consultant. She is the author of Guided Math, Strategies for Implementing Guided Math, Math Stretches: Building Conceptual Understanding, and Building Mathematical Comprehension

References Cited
Sams, A., and J. Bergmann. 2013. Flip your students’ learning. Educational Leadership. 70(6): 16-20.

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