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.
- 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.
- Students must be on task…the whole time.
- Students must put their materials away.
- 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 :)