Home » math workshop part 4

math workshop part 4

This is my 4th post about Math Workshop, but you can read the first one here, second one here, and third one here.

Tips and ideas for organizing your math workshop

Phew! I feel like that’s a lot, but the funny thing is…I am leaving a lot of things out! I keep reminding myself this is a blog, not a novel. So, let’s begin!

Teacher Instruction:

We begin each Chapter Lesson with a minilesson, but sometimes that minilesson is more of a major lesson (as in 20 minutes). Sometimes students have their textbooks out and are following along with me as I introduce a concept using my handy dandy teacher guide, but when following the chapter example problems isn’t enough (they aren’t getting it), I use “number strings” (an idea I first learned about during the Saturday PD class).  You can buy the Number Talks book that explains more about number strings (and even has sets for you to use before you become skilled at making your own sets) here.  The basic concept of number strings is that they are purposeful sets of problems/equations that build upon one another and increase in difficulty/level of understanding. Once you get used to the idea, you can easily write your own number strings “on the fly” and adjust them while you are instructing based on how your students are responding. For example, if I was teaching double-digit addition and wanted students to learn another addition strategy, I might start off by writing 23+56 on the whiteboard.  If my students can solve this equation, the next one might be 23+58. After listening to students explain their thinking (the importance of Math Talk cannot be stressed enough), you would know who was able to use which strategy and whether or not they are using an efficient strategy.  Are they noticing the pattern (2 more) from the equation we just did? Is anyone able to use the strategy “share some to make it friendly (take 2 from 23, making the equation 22+60)?” I would then decide if I should do a few more similar problems that students could try the concept I was trying to teach.   I have anchor charts for each strategy that I keep up all year for students to refer to.  I need to make individual sized ones (or just print these photos) for their binders, making a mental note to do that now. Here’s one we are focusing on now.

Guided Practice:

The basic idea behind guided practice is that students are working through the problems with you. I like my students to use spiral notebooks to work out the equations in the textbook. The best way I have found to manage this is to have students share a textbook between them.  If I can’t do that, I have showed them how to put their notebook on one
side of the textbook so they can fit everything on their desk. Life skills, check.

I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year making sure they write the title/date, write on the lines in a smaller size than most are used to, use the pink lines to guide starting and stopping points on the left and right, number their problems, box their answers…all that management stuff that I *hope* those intermediate teachers will appreciate later on. Working through a problem at a time, I slowly let go and check to see if students are able to do the problems with a partner or independently yet. This is where your teacher judgement comes in handy! Not getting it? More guided practice. Got it? Move to independent practice time.

Independent Practice:

There are 2 methods I use for Independent Practice.  I like to make up my own “sets” (A, B, and C) of equations for students at varying levels of ability. Students work independently to solve these problems and check their work with a partner when they are finished. Now, I can still use my own equations, but I often use the ones straight from the text or workbook. If partners get different answers, they are supposed to solve the equation together or prove why they think their answer is correct until they can agree on the answer.  This is where having a good foundation of Math Talk is critical. Your students can have a helpful guide to using Math Talk when they are checking each other’s work, while playing a math game, or you can use it as a poster for whole group time. You can grab the free Accountable Talk Poster here.

I have them initial the top of the page of their partner’s journal/workbook to show they have checked it with a peer.

When they are finished, they work independently again to write a word problem using one of the equations they just solved (turning the “naked numbers” into problems with a context). I model this a lot and show students why I choose the names Bob and Sam (because they are easy to write).  In the beginning of the year, I guide them toward using balls or toys (again, because they are easy to spell and kids can think of those things in larger quantities) in their word problems. When they have written a word problem, I have them check their answers with a calculator. This also requires some preteaching about how to use a calculator, and then how to use a calculator appropriately.

While Independent Practice is happening, I am able to meet with a small group (think: Guided Reading).  Most of the time, I can figure out who I will need to meet with during the Guided Practice time. The only real time I can predetermine who I am meeting with is right after a test. But, because MIF has pre/post test for chapters and I want to meet with students prior to those and more frequently, I make a mental list when checking for understanding during Guided Practice.

I’ve also done centers/math game rotations in the past, and I loved this format of Guided Math. I gave each student an accountability sheet with the week’s centers, and they checked off which ones they completed after each day. Then, at the end of the week, they would write a small reflection. This would give them a chance to voice any concerns or problems I didn’t notice while I was working with my groups. This sheet is editable so you can drag and drop the centers you are using right into the table (as well as adjust how many centers and the days you want on it). If you are doing reading centers, you can even make this page double-sided and have the reading center accountability sheet on the other side.

Also, I am not the biggest fan of making bulletin boards, so I came up with these Digital Rotation Boards as a way to save some wall space since they only need to be referenced during centers. They are so easy to use! You just choose the centers you are doing for the week and copy/paste them into the rotation board (and the accountability sheet if you are having your students use one). You can display them on a screen like this (or a tv screen if you have one of those instead) and students can refer to it to see where they need to be. Easy peasy!

So, that pretty much sums up my math block! For now anyway…

Craving more blog posts about math? Click below!


1 Comment

  1. October 14, 2013 / 3:41 pm

    What a great post! If you wanted to add it to my MaTh activity Thursday linky party sometime that would be great! I love all your posters!
    Kids Math Teacher

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join the newsletter today!


Subscribe and get this anchor chart and access to the FREE Resource Library!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit