Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: Diggin' Into Next Year- Organizing Math Workshop

Diggin' Into Next Year- Organizing Math Workshop


Welcome to week 2 of the Diggin' Into Next Year linky party!


...organize my math workshop.

If you have been following my blog (which of course you do!), then you know that I have been posting quite a bit about math. I am participating in a book study with the book Guided Math.


The book is GREAT! It has given me lots of new ideas for next year. You can check my posts so far by clicking HERE.

I run my math workshop VERY similar to the way that I run my reading workshop. I think that this helps the students to learn and get used to the schedule and expectations. I think that it also helps me to create a classroom environment where math is just as important as literacy. When I was a student, math was entirely taught whole group. I spend only a third of my math time teaching to the whole group. (Sometimes even less!) My goal is to get my students doing math rather than listening to me go on and on talking about math.

Warm-Up/Whole Group: 30 minutes
Math Workshop Rotation 1: 30 minutes
Math Workshop Rotation 2: 30 minutes

I have four leveled math groups, but I only meet with two each day. This allows me to have more time with the group and really dig deep. It also means that we aren't wasting time with too many transitions. Here is a look at my rotation schedule.


I am very careful about the centers that my students do when they are not working with me at the back table. I do not believe in busy work. Class time is far too valuable. I rarely give my students a plain worksheet. After lots of experimenting this year, these are the centers that I decided on...


A closer look at my centers..

Games:
Obviously, my students LOVE the game center. I use this center for the practice of math facts. It is the one center that does not involve much higher order thinking. But the thing that I do love about this center is that it does not require any weekly prep! I made game binders that include everything that my students need to play 24 different games. I purchased THESE no prep games. I made 4 copies and put each set in page protectors in a binder. I added a pencil pouch with two different colored dry erase markers and 2 dice. When the students have game time, they grab a binder off the shelf and play with a partner. They have some choice as to which of the games they want to play. I think that giving them some personal choice increases the motivation and fun. And since they are using dry erase markers and page protectors, they can be wiped clean for the next group. Simple! And the kids LOVE the games. I start with addition and then switch to subtraction, multiplication and finally division by the end of the year.

Independent:
As I mentioned above, I am not a big fan of worksheets. I find that they often have dozens of the same exact type of problem. So if a student is struggling- they will miss them all! And it can be tough to tell exactly where their understanding breaks down. Also, students who understand the skill really don't need to do it 20 times. It gets boring and then I start  to see more silly mistakes from them. So during their independent time, students spend time responding to math journal prompts and completing differentiated task cards.

I use my journal prompts to increase the amount of higher order thinking that my students are completing. Instead of just solving the problem they have to prove it, use alternative strategies and explain their thinking. This type of assignment really allows me to see where a student is getting off track.


I also select task card sets for them to complete that cover skills we have already learned during our whole group and small group time. This allows them to continue to practice previously taught skills. I love to use differentiated task card sets. They will start off simple and gradually get more complex. These task card sets give me some options. Sometimes I  will tell my highest math group to complete all of the task cards in the set and tell my lowest group to just go to number 20. Other times, I have everyone do them all- but I can easily see where the students' understanding breaks apart. This helps me to plan small group lessons and intervention.



I feel like the independent work center is often the center that requires the most teacher prep. I do not like having to prep for centers each week. It takes time away from my family and causes me more stress. So I only prep once per month. I decide which task card sets I want them to complete that month and stick them in a basket where students can easily access them. I make copies of the recording sheets they will need to complete the task cards and staple into a packet in necessary. I decide which journal prompts I want the students to complete that month and write the page numbers on our math workshop board (or you could type up a check-off sheet for each student). Then at the start of the month students are given the packet of recording sheets. They know that they have all month to complete the journal entries and task card sets. They can choose the order that they wish to complete them in. A little more student choice and a lot of responsibility building!

Technology
I have eight Chrome books in my classroom. My school has an account for every student with a company called i-Ready. The program gives each student a diagnostic test and then assignes lessons based on their performance. The lessons are very kid friendly with fun graphics and interactive elements. At the end of each lesson, the students are given a quiz. I can log in to the teacher page and see the scores and see each students' individual lesson plans. If I choose to, I can even assign certain lessons that go along with a unit we covered in our whole group time. Even if you don't have a program like i-Ready- there are many great websites that allow students to play math games.




There will be two BIG changes for my math next year! First, I have changed teaching schedules at my school. I still teach all subject areas, but I have less time to do it in! This alternative schedule allows students to go home earlier and spend more time doing hobbies and spending time with family. My personal children have been a part of this program for years and we love it. This will be the first time I have taught it though. I am not positive what changes I will need to make to fit everything into just over four hours!

Another big change is that our third grade team will be using different curriculum next year. This year, we used Houghton Mifflin. We found it to be a  little too algorithm based and lacking in place value skills, developing of number sense and hands on activities. Next year, we will be using Engage NY. I have never used it before, but it looks like it will be great for the development of number sense and higher order thinking. If you have used this program before, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!


I have math journals and task card sets that are very helpful during the math workshop time. Here are links to a few of the products that you might like...





What do your students do during their math centers? How do you keep the planning of centers from getting overwhelming? I would love to hear from you!

11 comments:

  1. I have the Second Grade Math Journal Prompts. I love them!!! Thank you for the Math WS outline.

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  2. This post may have just changed my life! Keeping up with making, laminating Math Center games just about did me in this year. Your journal and task card stations have inspired me! I may have to partner high and at-risk readers in order for them to work, or do rotations at a time I have a co-teacher or paraprofessional in my room, but I am going to give it a try! THANK YOU!
    ~Jennifer

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  3. Hi Jamie! Thank you for this post, it is so informative! I love how intentional you are with your stations and small group instruction. Great ideas!

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  4. I love the Guided Math book! Such a great resource! I checked out your 2nd Grade math Journal Prompts, and they are now on my wish list! You probably answered this in your post, and I missed it, but what do students do if they finish their journal prompt before that rotation time is up? Some of my 2nd graders would be finished in 5 minutes! Do they get to choose a math game to play?

    Theresa @ True Life I'm a Teacher!

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    Replies
    1. It takes some experimenting to figure out just how many prompts and task cards to assign each month. I usually give about 4 journal prompts and 2 task card sets. When students have completed the entire month of work, they can choose a math skill game from our baskets.

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  5. Thanks for your post Jamie! I am also trying to improve my math stations. One thing that has really helped my technology/computer center is these: 3rd Grade Computer Recipe Cards They are little cards that have the url/qrcode as well as a description to computer games that I have approved. I also include the math topic/common core standard on it. Now that center is much more manageable!

    deirdre aka EvilMathWizard

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  6. Jamie, thanks so much for this fabulous post. This linky party is perfect to go with the Guided Math book study, which I am loving reading right now. I just moved to 3rd grade from 2nd and will be using EngageNY as well. I will definitely be stalking your blog as you share some great resources, strategies, and ideas for this curriculum!

    Brandi
    Swinging for Success
    Follow me on Facebook!

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  7. Love your math journal prompts! More writing about math was one of my "changes" that I'd like to make for next year. I have some great ones that my kids can cut and paste into notebooks, but I love the format you have with giving the kids space for a picture and writing an explanation. Any chance that a 1st grade version of this is in the works? ;)

    - Katy
    First Grade Kate

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  8. I love the idea of prepping once a month, and stapling a packet of task card response pages for that month is genius! This year I will not be teaching core math because we are departmentalizing, but I will have a group for RTI math. I will have the "middle" group of 3, which will likely have students across the entire spectrum. With only 30 minutes, I'd like to spend as little time as possible going over directions. Thanks!

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  9. We used Engage NY the last half of the school year. I found it to be a great program! I felt that it really built on previous lessons. I really wish we were using is this year, but we have adopted Envision (eye roll) and it is not nearly as engaging. Good luck!

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  10. Jamie, Which Houghton Mifflin series did you use that you were not crazy about? We are looking into integrating Math Expressions. We looked into Engage NY, but it didn't seem to have as many tools for the teacher regarding differentiation, launches, etc. I'd love to hear your thoughts on both programs.

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