The school year is halfway through. If you’re like me, you are thankful for this winter break and are enjoying time with family. You are also using your break to review what is working in your classroom and what needs to be changed.
Today I will share with you how you can set up and organize a math workshop model that will help you reach every student! I hope you will take this guide, modify as needed, and use it in your classroom to help you and your students have a successful year!
In this guide I will cover these topics:
- How to organize your students into small groups
- How to find practical and concise material to differentiate your instruction
- How to set up math stations that are painless to manage
The goal of this math workshop model is to set up a system that gives students responsibility. They will know where to go and what to do. They will know what is expected of them and stay on task. This means you can use every minute to focus your attention on a small group of students.
STEP #1 – ORGANIZE YOUR STUDENTS
Here is the most important part – organizing your students into groups. It is difficult to do this at the beginning of the year, but by now you know your students better than anyone. Yes, you can look at the data collected by those online assessments, but lets face it – those assessments are sometimes way off. Use whatever data you have as a start, but use your professional judgment to make the final call.
Sticky notes – a teacher’s best friend 😉
Write each student name on a sticky note/index card/ect. This will make moving students around a simple task. I had some extra TABS that I used. Now let’s get started. I typed up a nice little page for you to use as you are brainstorming groups (click to print). It will help you think of the following…
- Who are my struggling students that need remediation?
- Who is right on target (grade level)?
- Who has mastered the skills & needs enrichment?
- Which students can NOT be in the same group?
- Which students have STRONG teamwork skills?
Now’s the fun part – start putting the sticky notes in those groups. Notice how there are TWO groups for struggling students. You will meet with these students twice a week in small groups. Below is an example of what your small group planning sheet may look like.
Now that you have your students in groups, it’s time to write this down on the ‘official’ math group page (click to print). Keep in mind when you want to meet with your students. Use the following as a guide:
Now you should have a pretty list that looks something like this. Be sure to print out extra sheets and keep them in the sheet protector, so you can make changes to the groups as needed.
STEP #2 – USE PRACTICAL AND CONCISE MATERIAL
After you form your groups you need to decide what you’re going to teach and how you’re going to organize it. Finding quality material for each group can easily turn into a time consuming task. After 5 years of teaching 3rd grade, I have come up with a math curriculum series that will save you time and make planning small groups a breeze. This will ensure that you use each minute effectively.
How do I decide what to teach?
You could continue to focus on skills you taught during your whole-group instruction. You could also decide to focus on the concepts that students struggled on during the first part of the school year.
Let’s look at the following..
- Part 1: How to keep organized lesson plans
- Part 2: How to keep track of each student’s level of mastery
Math Binder – Part 1
I’ve typed up a one page small group – lesson plan template on excel. This is so convenient, because you can plan your entire week on one page and have a clear view of what you are going to teach. This lesson plan template is pretty neat because I’ve included drop-down menus to make lesson planning simple.
The editable lesson plan templates are available for grades 1-5 and you can choose the following from the drop down menus:
- The domain you are focusing on
- The standard being taught/reviewed
- The problem solving strategy you are working on
- *Some of the templates include standards from the previous and next grade, so you can keep track of remediation & enrichment.
Math Binder – Part 2
There is also a sheet that you can use for each student. Yes, it seems like a lot of work, but if you organize the sheets per group it won’t take more than a few of minutes to check the standards for each student.
To make this section you will need 4 dividers with tabs. Label them Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and Group 4 (see pictures below). You will need to print a level of mastery sheet for each student.
When organizing the level of mastery sheets, group them together according to what math small group they are in. So, if students #2, 5, 7, 8, and 12 are in group 2, I would put those sheets behind the Group 2 tab in the binder.
Click the images below to download a PDF version of the common core math checklists.
Purchase the Math Tri-Folds and make your small group lesson planning a breeze.
STEP #3 – SET UP MATH STATIONS
I have always displayed the math rotations on pocket charts, but I’ve decided to do something different. I set up the math rotations display on an easel. The rotation cards are printed on regular sheets of paper and are inside sheet protectors. This allows me to write down what is expected at each station. It also makes changing the dates simple! (Download the rotation cards here.
Students also have a copy of where they go inside their math workshop folder. I also have master in my math binder. (Download the student folder sheets here.)
What do students do during each rotation?
When finding material for math stations I ask myself the following:
- Are they aligned to the standards? There are a lot of cute games out there, but we don’t have time for busy work in my class.
- Are they simple to assemble/maintain? I like math stations that I can print/laminate and can store for years to come.
- Are they interesting/fun? Everyone needs a break from boring paperwork, so I want students to learn and have fun during this time.
Now let’s look at each math station.
Math Rotation #1 – Teacher
This is when students come to the teacher and have a small group math lesson that is focused on remediation or enrichment. We may complete a math tri-fold during this time or review something the students struggled with during whole-group instruction.
Math Rotation #2 – Computer
My school bought a subscription to iXL.com. Students complete standards that I’ve assigned them (on rotations display). You can also assign students math activities using MangaHigh.com. I have recently created interactive, paperless math centers for grades 3-5. You can view them by clicking here.
Math Rotation #3 – Independent
This rotation is where I place math board games, task cards, sorts, or interactive notebook activities. I write down what students are to do on the rotations display. Math games are stored inside plastic drawers (extra wide). I place the games that students are going to work on in the colorful drawers. Students take the game with them to their math spot. I will post about how I organize math games in a future post.
- Math Board Games & Task Cards – I LOVE this packet of math board games and task cards. They are grouped by domain, so it makes finding the right math center an easy task. There are matching games, board games, and task cards for students to complete. (Click to view 3rd grade) Expect a packet for grades 4 & 5 in the near future.
- Math Sorts – This is my newest product for 3rd grade. You will find math sorts that cover ALL 3rd grade math standards. You can learn more about math sorts here. (2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade)
- Interactive Math Vocabulary – Students love interactive notebooks, and this product focuses on vocabulary. (Click to view 3rd grade) I will be working on grade 2, 4, and 5 soon.
Math Rotation #4 – iPad
Students can use Google Slides to complete a digital math center for the specific standard you are teaching. Below are links to the available growing bundles.
Another student favorite is the use of QR codes. Students complete task cards, record, and check using the QR codes. You can use the following sheet to plan your rotations for the entire week!
In order to successfully implement this math workshop model, you will need to…
- Organize you students into 4 groups.
- Use standard specific material during small group meetings
- Set up a math rotations display so student know where to go
- Set up student math folders where they keep their math workshop material
- Set up math stations that are easy to manage
- Review expectations, practice, & review some more!