Monday, August 31, 2015

September Morning Math FREEBIE

Today I'm here to share how to turn your students into Mathematical Thinkers! 

During my first year of teaching, I found that my students really struggled with word problems. They had a difficult time understanding what to do and how to solve; especially when all 4 operations have been introduced. In order to get better at anything, students must be given practice. They need to be exposed to word problems frequently..not only during your unit in which word problems are covered. 

So--I ended up creating weekly morning math problems. I wish you could see how this set has transformed since my first year of teaching! I've probably revised this product a total of 4 times. 

Each day, students will take care of their morning business (turning in homework, copying down the night's homework, getting their supplies out for the day, etc). As a part of morning business, students are required to work on 3 math problems a day. 

In the beginning of the year (August), they start off with only 2 problems which review 2nd grade Common Core State Standards. September transitions them into 3 problems daily with the exception of some Fridays. 

It is important that your students practice, but it is even more important that you students engage is mathematical conversations. Your students must be able to explain and justify their reasonings for choosing a particular answer. 

For about the first month and a half, I will model for students how to lead the class in correcting their morning math as well as how to facilitate conversations. After that, the correcting is all up to the students. 

Every afternoon we take out our Morning Math Books and a red pen. Students go up to the front of the room and share how they solved the problem. If a student got the incorrect answer or are having a difficult time understanding, they raise their hand to let the 'teacher' know. It is then up to the 'teacher' to come up with another way to explain to help out their friend. 

It is so amazing to hear your students saying things like "How do you know your answer correct?", "I like the way you solved the problem", "Don't you mean to say 4 tens, not 4?" "I got lost when you explained ___, could you go back and say it again". 

I love to hear them having conversations about math, helping each other to see math in different ways as well as how to explain and justify their answers in different ways. For those students who may have difficult time explaining their answers, it is so valuable for them to be able to hear others explain. Eventually they get the hang of it, and will be begging to be the 'teacher' to correct the day's Morning Math. 

If you'd like to try this out with your students, I have a FREEBIE sample of September's Morning Math available for you here

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Math Workshop #beginning

Yesterday I posted about how and why Math Workshop started in my classroom. I also mentioned that I would be doing a mini blog series about what it looks like in my class and how I structure the block. If you're interested in reading about why I started, you can check that post out here.

Before we even begin Math Workshop, I explain to my students what it is and WHY it's important. I explain to students that by doing Math Workshop, I am able to be a better teacher and better meet the needs of each student. We talk about how sometimes certain math concepts are harder to learn for others but then the next concepts may be easier to learn. In small groups, I will be able to see what a student is struggling with and address their needs immediately…rather than letting them practice a skill the wrong way and then catching it after I grade their work. 

 I show them the rotation board, explain generally what they will be doing at each station and then we practice moving. Only moving and reading the board. 

The large circles are the different groups. The cards to the far left are labeled: Rotation 1, Rotation 2, etc. Each day during workshop the students will rotate to all four stations- work with teacher, independent work, hands on, and computers. 

After I am done explaining what they'll generally be doing at each station, I assign them a group and we practice reading the board. After that, we discuss HOW we move about from one station to the other. Students are expected to put whatever materials they are working with away. They will get a signal when it is time to switch. I ring my little bell and call out "SWITCH". The students then repeat back to me "SWITCH". I then begin a countdown. I say "10", then the students repeat after me. I continue to count each number and the students will echo the same number aloud. This gives them a total of 20-40 seconds to switch. (I usually start at a higher number during the beginning--but once they get used to it they get better at putting things away and moving quickly). 

Only after I know that each student knows how to read the board and move about…we practice. Students don't do anything at each station…they just practice counting, moving, and pretending like they're working at their station. We continue to practice as much as we need until I know that students know the expectations. 

  1. Students are not allowed to interrupt me when I am working with a small group of students. I only have 20 minutes with each group, and they understand this time is valuable. 
  2. Students must be on task…the whole time.
  3. Students must put their materials away.
  4. Students must come to each station prepared with necessary materials (will go into this later).

Ensuring your students understand the value of Math Workshop as well as what is expected of them is crucial in order for this to be successful. Spending the time in the beginning to make sure your students understand your role and their roles will help the process to run smoothly in your classroom all year round. 

Next up- I will post a little more about the structure.

If you have any questions about starting math workshop in your classroom, please feel free to send me an e-mail or leave your questions in the comment section below :) 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Math Workshop #introduction

During my first year of teaching, I made a quick discovery that my students all learned at different paces and had varying needs in regards to learning math. I knew that I needed to do something other than whole group instruction--because that was definitely not working in my room.

This is how math workshop started in my classroom...although it originally began as math rotations (my students changed the name because they got it mixed up with rotations where they switched classes for science, social studies, health, and art.

I decided to start grouping my students based off of similar needs with certain skills. While I was meeting with said groups, others would be working on center activities and games to reinforce other math concepts.

This worked. I was happy, and my students were happy. I am SO glad I decided to try this out during my first year of teaching...because I probably wouldn’t LOVE teaching math as much as I do if it weren’t for this.

Over the years I have refined the whole process of how math workshop works and runs in my classroom.  My students LOVE math workshop time and I LOVE that they love it!

Starting on Sunday, I will begin a mini blog series about Math Workshop in my classroom. I hope you’ll stop in to find out more!!