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..

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.

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!

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!