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Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Peek Inside My Math Block: Go Math

One of the daily emails I receive from my faithful followers asks me how I use Go Math during my math block.  When I first started using Go Math, I was beyond confused and had no idea what I was doing.  This is what many of you confess when you email me, so I figured it was time to lay it out for you.  Hopefully this gives you a better feel for what you may want to incorporate in your math block. 
Go Math is a great tool and I feel awful for those of you who didn't have the opportunity to be trained like I was. Albeit, the training came a year late, but it opened my eyes and there was no turning back.  The next two paragraphs highlight one of the authors, so if you want to jump to the meat of the post, it starts after the second book image.

One of the authors, Juli Dixon, was my trainer and she has become my personal math hero.  You can read her daughter's story and learn more about why she believes in teaching math for understanding.  Her daughter was involved in a tragic accident and learning was difficult. This is the story of their journey and it fostered a new way to look at math.

Juli has also authored and co-authored many books on the common core and math curriculum.  She is a true inspiration.  This is another one of my go to books, Beyond the Common Core, A Handbook for Mathematics in a PLC @ Work.


Now on to what you really want to know.  I am going to use Lesson 1.1, so you have an idea of how to start  your year.

Introduction of Lesson, Formative Assessment (10 minutes)

The first page of every lesson begins with a Listen and Draw activity.  This is to be used as a formative assessment. It is unguided and not taught.  This is where teachers get an idea of how students think about this type of problem.  How will they approach this type of problem solving?  All students will not approach it in the same manner, so you will get to see all the different ways that students are able to figure out how to solve the problem.  Some will draw, some will need manipulatives (I always have manipulatives out at my tables), some will just go straight to the problem.  Teachers should be using a checklist or other form of data check to document the information.  Once all students (only give 10 minutes) have finished, you can then show a few of the ways the problem is to be solved.

Students may have drawn actual ladybugs, circles, squares, etc. to show adding to.  It doesn't matter what they drew, they should show 2 groups and an answer next to the word ladybugs.  Rather than correct or have them redo the work if it is way off, jot a note or show them 2 groups on the margin of the page.  You want to keep their work in tact so you can use this page to gauge your teaching and their learning for the rest of the lesson. If most of your students get it, then you know you can move quickly through the next steps, if not then you will need to adjust the flow of your lesson.  

Model and draw part 2 shows up at the top of the next page of each lesson.  This is a continuation and should only be a 5 minute teaching point.  This is another way to show students how adding to (or whatever you are teaching) can be modeled.  Students are to be listening and engaged, but the teacher is doing all the talking as it is only a model for the lesson.

The next part of the lesson is Share and Show.  This is the We Do portion, where teacher and students work together. This is the next 5-10 minutes of your lesson.  The teacher models the first problems and then the students complete the problems with a red check.  Students can work together during this time, as this is not independent work, it is guided practice.  I am asking questions and soliciting students for answers during this time.  Students are talking to me and to each other.  It is noisy, but they are learning from me and from each other.

At the beginning of the school year, all problems will have a red check because Go Math works on gradual release. Another point to make is that all problems do not have to be completed.  Go Math was written with extra practice built in, so if you find that all of your students get it after the first two problems, you can stop using the book and move on to more hands-on centers earlier in your lesson.

The third part of my math block is using the On Your Own section.  This is the You Do portion of the lesson where students work independently. I walk around and ask questions to check for understanding. This is a 20-25 minute part of my block.  This is when I use the information from the formative assessment and the Share and Show to see who needs intervention.  I pull those students who didn't know how to approach the problem and/or had difficulty with the problems, to my table and we work together.  I use different manipulatives and center work that I have already put together prior to the lesson.  All the other students are working in their books (I assign a set number of problems depending on their understanding.  I may say do all the odd or all the even.).  Once they finish, they move on to a quick math center of their choice that is geared to the day's lesson.

All students must attempt the HOT problem.  This really shows me who can think out of the box and who still needs guidance.  I check the HOT problems and give students stickers to show they are "HOT" for math.  It doesn't matter how they approach the problem, so accept any thinking and have students explain what they did. You will only know that they understand when they can tell you WHY.

After 20-25 minutes have gone by, it is time to check one or two problems and the HOT.  This is quick and I still formatively assess so I can see who will still needs help on the content for this lesson.  

We then move on to the last page, Problem Solving.  This is the last 15-25 minutes of the lesson where we wrap up and check for complete understanding.  The only items I use here are the HOT problem and one other question.  We do the HOT as a We do (students work together) and then they complete the other problem on their own.  As the year progresses, students will no longer work together on this problem.  It will be independent.

The PARCC test prep is completed on their own and I use this as an exit slip.  This is a spiral review and may or may not have anything to do with the day's lesson.  I have student's tear out this page and bring it home with their home learning so parents can get an idea of what is to be expected.  I also have students circle the take home idea in red.  They can do this as an option at home, but it is not required.  If they do this part, they must bring some sort of proof the next day.  I put all of their names in a bin and have a drawing at the end of the week for a math prize.

Well, that is how I run my 60 minute block.  The times are approximate and some days I end up with lots of time left over and some days I have to "borrow" time from another subject.  I hope this helps.  Please leave me some love now and then after you try this I would love for you to come back and tell me all about it.  If you would like my Go Math PowerPoint, it is free in my TpT store.  Just click here and you will be able to download it.  I also posted on how I use Go Math in our Interactive Math Notebooks, you can find that post here.

Happy Saturday all and thanks for stopping by :)


  1. Janine, I use Go Math at my school too. We made the switch four years ago. At first there was a LOT of heartburn with Go Math...especially for parents. After battling homework for two years, we stopped sending it home. It has worked out so much better for us. I built in a two hour math block and do all the work in the classroom that we need to get to. Last year we switched to the CC version...before FL said they were pulling out of CC and switching to Florida Standards. We really worked through everything and did a very blended curriculum with NGSSS and CC. It all worked out great. Through the years I've gained a better understanding of Go Math and I enjoy using it as a teaching resource.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Allison,
    Our first year we had the Sunshine State Standards, but the book was CCSS, so that was fun. The second year we were able to align with the CCSS, but had to supplement for the SAT-10. Last year we did the same, but the SAT-10 was updated so our supplemental info went to crap, lol. This year I won't be teaching math, but I am sure my peeps are going to have fun with a CCSS book and the new MAFS!


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