Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Starting Math Workshop

     I have taught Math using this Math Workshop (or Math Centers) format for the past several years. I have found that this works well for me and my style of teaching. Here are some things I do to help get my Math Workshop time running smoothly.

First Week of School
     The first day of school is always crazy. Usually, for Math, we make a class graph of “How We Came to School”. That is usually the extent of Math for the first day of school since we are going over rules and procedures. Before we make the graph, I read the book This is the Way We Go to School by Edith Baer and Steve Bjorkman.

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    Here is a picture of the graph my class made last year.

We also made a class graph of which hand they write with on the second day of school.

     From the second day of school to the fifth day, the students explore our Math Tools after our whole group Math lesson. My students sit in groups, so I leave them in these groups for this week.
     I give each group a bucket of one of our Math Tools. Usually, I only pull out the cubes, geoblocks (wooden 3D shapes) and pattern blocks. So, two groups start with cubes, two groups start with pattern blocks and one group starts with the geoblocks. I don’t give any real directions. I just want them to explore the materials. I do tell them not to throw them and they must keep them on the tables. They have to stay with their group.
     For the following two days, I rotate the materials to different tables. On the last day of the week, I set out the materials and they can choose which one they would like to explore.
     During the time the students are exploring the materials, I am able to pull individual children for short assessments.

Second Week of School
     During the second week of school, after our whole group Math lesson from the curriculum, I introduce two Math Games to the whole class. (I choose Math Games that go along with our current Math lessons or that should be a review.) Here is a brief schedule of how I get them to be independent with these games.

Monday  I introduce the Math Game to the whole class. I always start with a partner game to help the students get to know each other. I model the game using my Elmo (document camera). We go over the rules to the game, as well as, rules for playing partner games. Then, they play the game with their partner as I walk around the room helping as needed.
Tuesday We review the same Math Game. I give the students a new partner. We go over the rules of working with a partner. They play the game as I walk around and help as needed.
Wednesday I introduce the second Math Game for this week. It is another partner game. I model the game then review the rules. They play the game with their partner as I monitor.
Thursday We review the Math Game. The students play the game with a new partner as I monitor.
Friday This is when we actually practice Math Centers. I put out both games at different tables. Half of the students play the first game and the other half play the second game. The students move to their assigned table (center). They play the game until it is time to switch centers. Then, they make sure they clean up their centers and move to the other center.
     Since this is the first time the students are moving to different centers, I don’t try to work with individual students at my table. I walk around and monitor.

Third Week of School
     Since the students have now learned two Math Games, we can start our Math Workshop/Centers. For me, it works best to have the students only go to one Center a day. I have found that they are able to get more involved in  the Center and I don’t have to set up for as many Centers during the week.
Monday I introduce a new Math Game/Center. Then, I introduce the Math Workshop board that will tell them which Center they go to that day. They go to their Center. The Center time on Monday will be shorter due to the time it takes to introduce the new game. I try to have 5 Centers a week. Since I have only introduced 3 Math Games so far, I have some of the children go on the computers for a Center and/or have more students at a Center than I normally would have there.
Tuesday-Friday The students go to a different Center each day. On Friday of this week, I usually let the students choose which Center they want to go to since I don’t have 5 Centers set up yet.

Fourth Week of School
     This week, we start our full rotation of Math Workshop/Centers. I introduce 2 new Math Games/Centers on Monday so that we have our full 5 Math Centers this week. The students will go to one Center a day according to the chart I have set up. I monitor the students and move the students to different groups as needed.
     I try to get my small groups pulled to my table as well. I don’t make the Teacher table a part of the Center rotation. I call the students out of their Centers when I need them for my group. I do this because my groups change frequently based on students’ needs.

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