Guided Math Through Math Workshop

Area(s) of Focus: math, kindergarten
Division(s): Primary
Level(s): Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3

The goal of the inquiry was to identify where students are in their developmental understanding of mathematics and implement various instructional strategies to assist students in moving their thinking forward through guided practice.

As an instructional coach, I collaborated with kindergarten teachers, as well as grade 1, 2 and 3 teachers. The goal of this inquiry was to engage in professional learning in guided math.

Our aim was to organize the math program to allow students to meet with the teacher for guided math instruction and engage in purposeful activities to develop students’ conceptual and procedural understanding of mathematics.

The guided math workshop elements included:

  • A problem of the day, number of the day
  • Whole class mini-lesson
  • Math centres/guided math groups
  • Math strategy practice
  • Share/consolidation of learning


Team Members

  • Shannon Beach

    Peel District School Board

  • Anila Khan

    Peel District School Board

  • Fiona Johnston

    Peel District School Board

  • Raji Sethi

    Peel District School Board

  • Adriana Takashima

    Peel District School Board

  • Alka Manocha

    Peel District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

The goal of this inquiry was to identify what mathematical thinking looks like and sounds like (identifying the mathematical processes) and determine where students were in their developmental understanding of mathematics. Our intention was to then implement various instructional strategies to assist students in making their thinking visible and move their thinking forward along a developmental continuum. My colleagues and I engaged in reflective dialogue of student work and were responsive to student learning needs.

The activities to meet this goal included collaborating with colleagues to co-plan, co-teach and debrief math workshops. Through observations, conversations and documentation of student work and student thinking, we reflected on how to positively impact student learning and improve student achievement. Looking at student work generated an evidence-reliant learning culture.

Activities and Resources

The team and I began by first reading Math Workshop in Action Building Each Student’s Mathematical Proficiency with Small Group Instruction by Dr. Nicki Newton. We learned how to set up the environment, how to form guided groups, the philosophy behind guided math and how to manage the various math groups.

Unexpected Challenges

The challenges we faced were engaging the rest of the class while small groups were meeting with the teacher. There was a lack of manipulatives and teacher resources available to draw from. This lead us to purchasing materials to create engaging centres that students could complete independently and for a sustained period of time.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

Guided math enhances student learning as lessons are designed for the learner and what the student needs at that moment in time. As this is a guided exercise, students were involved in lessons based on their developmental level. Our professional learning allowed us to understand how to meet the needs of students that are currently performing below grade level. As we engaged in the cycle of assessment to determine and create guided math groups, assessment informed our practice as we provided students with descriptive feedback to move their thinking forward. Utilizing the PRIME Professional Resources and Instruction for Mathematics Educators resource by Marian Small allowed the team and I to determine students’ initial understanding of number sense.


The professional learning my colleagues and I engaged in will be shared through a digital flyer called a S’more.  It will be shared with the administration and staff at Eastbourne Drive Public School. I will also be sharing my flyer with other instructional coaches in Peel during our three-day learning session in June.

Project Evaluation

I believe the project was a success as teachers revealed their enjoyment in professional learning that was self-directed. By providing release time for teachers to engage in professional dialogue and share their learning was essential to the success of this project.

Our final analysis revealed marker students made gains in their ability to make their thinking visible and move their thinking forward. Our learning has lead us to want to continue to implement guided math and work with grade team members to share ideas and resources.

Key Learning:

  • Planning for the centres takes time
  • Challenging to meet all the elements of guided math in a day
  • Kindergarten allows for easier flow due to play-based environment
  • Need more hands-on games and resources for student use

Resources Used

Guided Math in Action: Building Each Students’s Mathematical Proficiency with Small-Group Instruction by Dr. Nicki Newton

Hands-On Mathematics – Portage & Main Press

For a complete list of resources, please click on the S’more link below.