Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Math Workshop #NittyGritty

Hey there! Today I'm here to continue my little mini blog series on how I run Math Workshop in my classroom and get down to the #NittyGritty 

Before we jump into Math Workshop, I always do a whole group lesson. 
During the lesson I introduce the concept we are learning about. When I teach concepts I always, always, always introduce with concrete representations. Throughout our time working on the skill we will then move to the pictorial, and eventually abstract representations. We practice the concepts using the I do, We do, You do model. We do tons of guided practice as a group using task cards and our whiteboards. 

While students are working on solving problems, I use the time to walk around and help those who seem to be confused and/or not understanding. This is my time that I can work with individual students and give them my undivided attention. 
Along with using this time for helping students, I am also taking note of those who are struggling to catch on…even with continued practice and support. 
At the end of our whole group lesson, I hand out my Quick Checks that I use to assess the day's learning. The students are given different problems (I have a version A and B) so that I know I am assessing their understand, not their neighbors! 
I then use the information from my Quick Checks to put them into groups for Math Workshop.

This is my Math Workshop Rotation Board…laid out on a table….before I stapled them to my cabinets. Sorry for the poor picture quality--and crookedness of the cards, it was the best photo I could find on my phone :/ lol

Anyway- I meet with 4 groups every day and each group will rotate to 4 different centers: Work with Teacher, Computers, Hands On and Independent Work. 

Because of the way that I teach before jumping into Math Workshop, I always assign my group of students who seem to have got the day's lesson to be the first to work on independent work. This is because I feel that they are most ready to tackle the assignment. When we meet together, we quickly review the work they completed and I make note of how each student did. 

During Hands On, students are either reviewing past skills and/or working on building their understanding of current skills being covered. At this center, students will work on a variety of things. One day they may be playing a game, working on task cards, doing a scavenger hunt, or using cards to solve problems on whiteboard/templates. 

In the picture above, the students were working on different ways to represent multiplication. They were given various multiplication expressions and needed to show that expression 4 different ways. Some students took awhile doing this, while others were quick. One way I managed activities like this (and also used it as a formative assessment) was to have the students take a picture of their work with the iPad. At the end of the day, I used this as another piece of data (along with my notes from small groups) to adjust groupings for the next day. All I needed to do was scroll through the iPad photos to check student work.

When it comes to independent work/Hands On, my students are given differentiated folders based on their groups (using coordinating colors). 

Based on the skill and how far along we are, different groups are given different assignments to work on. I also sometimes differentiated the Hands On Activities. 

Using folders really made my prep easy because I didn't need to take the time to hand out different worksheets to all the different groups…even better, students had no idea that they weren't working on the same things as the other groups. 


When students are working on computers they are mostly on IXL to review skills and/or Fact Fluency Games. They are given assignments each day that are posted on the front board.

During Teacher Time the students come to the Kidney Bean Table to work with me. This is where the main teaching happens. All students are working on the same skill, but at very different paces. Like I said before, when I meet with the 'high group' we check on their independent work first, then work on and clarify misconceptions. 

I LOVE Teacher Time during Math Workshop for soooo many reasons.

1. Your high students don't get bored. 
This is your time to challenge them, push them to the next level and truly make their learning meaningful. 

2. You can help ALL students.
I'm not going to lie. It is ROUGH having a class of 28-32 students with levels ranging from 1st-6th grade. Math Workshop allows you the opportunity to differentiate teaching, learning, and practice for all students in your class. I'm able to help those students who need it---at their level. That's the best feeling ever. 

3. Your struggling kiddos feel comfortable. 
By the time students hit 3rd grade, they know they struggle. Too often I find those kids shying off, disengaged and trying hard to not be called on. During Teacher Time, they are working at their level, being successful and feel GOOD! They are understanding things and they begin to burst out of their shells. During Teacher Time, I actually get to know who my struggling kiddos better…I love to see them wiggling in their chair wanting to answer my questions or give their friend some advice/feedback. It makes my day! 

That's it folks..that is how I run Math Workshop in my classroom. It has definitely evolved over the years and taken time become what it is today. If you would like to read about why I started or how I start, please head back to the beginning


  1. 1. I love the use of your hashtags. #iusethemtoomuch ;)
    2. I love the concept of math workshop! How long is your math block? Can this be done in 60 mins??

    Ride Away With Mrs. Ridgway

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