Monday, May 12, 2014

Math Workshop In My Room

In my classroom, everyone loves math workshop. My students love to have independence and play games. I love being able to identify students who are struggling and meet their needs in a small group or one on one. It's a win-win. In the past couple of months, I have changed up the way I do math workshop in my classroom. I no longer do math workshop the "traditional" way, but my own way, which I totally love. Below is the typical set-up of my math block.

1. Whole Group: I start off every math block with a whole group lesson. (We review our math morning work in the am, but I don't have math until 1:30.) This lesson usually lasts about 10-15 and is where I introduce a new concept for the day or focus on a skill that has been difficult for most of my students.

2. Question of the Day: I put a question, usually 2 word problems, on the board. The questions cover whatever material the whole group lesson was on. The students answer the questions in their math notebook. When the students have solved both problems, they bring their notebook to me. I quickly check their answers. Students with both questions right get to go to math workshop. They understood the lesson, they're done. For now. If a student gets a question wrong, I circle it and send them back to work on it. About 5 minutes into this, I am left with a group of around 6 students who are having a hard time with the daily concept. These students become my first group. We walk through how to solve the problems and then we do a couple more together. Sometimes I dismiss the students as a group and sometimes I dismiss one at a time after they correctly demonstrated the skill a couple times in a row.

By this time, the rest of my class is joyfully engaged in math workshop. I do a quick walk-thru to make sure everyone is on task and learning. Then, I pull my second group. My second group consists of students who scored poorly on the pretest, an assessment, yesterday's quick quiz (see below), or who need extra support. I typically work with this group until the end of the workshop time.

3. Quick Quiz: At the beginning of each week, I create a weekly quiz. The quiz has 3-5 questions per day. After we clean up from workshop, the students answer their daily questions (which hopefully they have a better understanding of due to their workshop time) and bring their packet to me. I check their work and hold on to their packet for tomorrow's quick quiz time. As the students are turning in their work, I quickly mark the problems they got right or wrong on a grading sheet. This allows me to see students who are having trouble and questions that were particularly hard overall. All of the questions on these quick quizzes are test questions from our testing program, Interactive Achievement. It is super easy to create quizzes in the program and most of the questions are released test questions from previous year's state tests. I also take this time to quickly conference and check-in with students about their math.

I have found that this schedule really works for me because:
-I get multiple chances a day to see how my students are progressing (I love to see immediate progress from a student who did not get it at the beginning of the lesson)
-My groups are truly flexible: Each day's group is based on how they understood that day's lesson. I used to give a pre-test at the beginning of the week, but would always end up shifting students before the week was through
-I get to conference with my students daily and I pretty much know the strategies each child uses as well as their strengths/weaknesses

Workshop Groups: Students take a pretest at the beginning of the unit that places them in their workshop group. I have 8 groups and 8 centers going on during my workshop time. I change my centers at the beginning of each unit. This works great for me because each group gets to a center at least twice in a unit. Since students are released to start workshop when they have correctly answered the daily problems, some students are at centers by themselves until the rest of their group joins them. At the beginning of each new unit, I introduce the centers and we discuss how you would complete the center by yourself if you are waiting on group members. 

Center Assignments: My groups are named after animals and I display the slide below on my Promethean board. I have a separate board that lists who is in each animal group. When it is time to rotate centers, I just move the pictures around and save the updated file. Easy Peasy!

-Cabinet: Math Manipulatives
-Flat bins in the Front Row: Reading Centers
-Books Bins in the Back Row: Math Centers
-First Shelf: Math Workshop Games/Resources
-Second Shelf: Indoor Recess Games
Close Up of My Center Bins: Each bin is numbered so students can easily identify the centers.

Stay tuned for a review of the resources on my first shelf and a look at what's inside my current workshop centers. I would love to hear how math workshop looks for you!

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