When you walk into my classroom during math.. it’s LOUD and things look CHAOTIC! And you know what? It WORKS! Students are spread all over the room engaging in many different tasks. Some are working independently on ipads, some kids are playing math games together, while others are sitting at a small group table with me. If you walk around the room and watch the students do math, you realize that “loud and chaotic” is really LEARNING and ENGAGED!! This set-up has made SUCH a difference in my classroom, while also increasing the mastery of math skills for my students.
So what’s the secret? A math workshop model, also known as guided math, is the secret! Here you’ll learn all about how I use this guided math workshop model to support and challenge my students. I have made it my main goal to become a facilitator during math where the students bear most of the load. It may sound scary and overwhelming, but once you learn how this can work, you will NEVER want to go back. As educators, it is so important to provide students the tools they need to be successful during math and there are so many ways we can support them. If you want to learn more about some math tools and strategies, check out THIS post!
What Is The Math Workshop Model?
The math workshop model is an amazing combination of hands-on learning activities and direct instruction. It embodies differentiation and student choice and children stay engaged and learning. There are many different ways to implement a math workshop but it generally consists of direct instruction in the form of a mini lesson, followed up with ample time for practice in a student centered setting. The workshop is ended with a debriefing that includes a recap and reflection on student learning.
Why Use A Math Workshop Model?
It is no secret that students thrive when they are able to make choices. It is also no secret that teachers have to differentiate because each student comes with their own needs. This workshop model allows for both of these to happen simultaneously. The mini lesson is timed for a MAXIMUM of ten minutes. There is SIGNIFICANT research that students should not sit on the carpet for a mini lesson for longer than 10 minutes. You will definitely have to practice getting timing down, but with consistency and structure it is absolutely feasible!
Another great reason to implement this model is because it supports a deeper understanding of math concepts. The purpose of the mini lesson is to bridge learning from previous lessons, discuss learning targets, and the skills that are being taught. During this time we talk about what we are learning and WHY we are learning it. If it’s a completely new skill, we discuss why the skill is important. If it’s relatively new, I give students about half a minute to think about what we’ve been learning and then we turn and talk and discuss it as a class. If we’ve spent some time on it, we dive into our learning target more and discuss how we know we are successful and what that looks like. Every single day we are TALKING about math. This builds that deeper understanding. John Hattie has significant research to support the effect size of students knowing and explaining their learning has a HUGE impact on their success.
The beautiful thing about a guided math workshop is that it is FLEXIBLE. You can set it up however you like that works for you and your students. Think of your workshop as a literal “shop” of math “work” where students can explore and engage in activities that are aligned to the skill being taught. You, as the facilitator, will set up activities for students to engage independently while you can observe and step in to guide or help as needed. Small groups will also be scheduled during this time for you to meet with students to deliver differentiated instruction. Expectations will be set and students are provided with many resources to utilize for help as to not disrupt crucial small group time. It is a time where all students are set up for success and they have opportunities to choose and challenge themselves in fun ways while learning.
The expectations, the activities, and the resources should ALL be tailored to and your students, and that’s what makes this so great. Workshop time is where you can get really creative and the entire structure is perfect for students to be successful mathematicians! Let’s look at what it can look like for you!!
-Keep it MINI. Get this discussion and practice in under or as close to ten minutes as possible.
– Unpack your standards. Talk about what they mean and set goals for learning.
–Discuss the WHY. Make connections on why the skill is important in our lives outside of school.
–Model EXPLICITLY. Think aloud choosing best strategies, how to solve problems and checking your work.
– Pair students. Strategically sit learners with similar abilities near each other that can really support their partner during discussions.
–Turn and talk. Give students time to TALK about what they are learning, WHY they are learning it, and what it LOOKS LIKE
to be successful in the skill.
–Provide time for QUICK practice. Remember your time! It is a MINI lesson!
– LET GO! Not all students are going to understand the skill when leaving the lesson and that’s OK! Understand the power of YET!
–This is the bulk of your time. Students in centers working together and independently. This is where deep understanding happens.
–Teach new games or activities. Do this prior to breaking off into centers.
–Meet with small groups. Schedule these in a way that works best for you, your students, and your instructional time.
–Differentiate centers. Provide a variety of different activities for partner and independent work. ALL students must spend time
–Create a transition system. Have routines for how and when students will rotate throughout the centers. Ten minutes per rotation is a typical time, but this will depend on your schedule.
–Set a MUST DO activity. These activities don’t have to be assigned every day, but you can choose what works best for your class.
–Review expectations. Depending on the time of the year, this might not apply, but it never hurts for students to review what is expected of them during center time.
ENGAGING MATH CENTER ACTIVITIES
I use THESE Rotation Slides to help guide students during our work time!
-Conducted while students are working through center activities. Set routines for students to honor your time with your small group by seeking help before interrupting you.
–Work on filling gaps in student’s learning. Differentiate instruction, utilize standards in grades below and above you, and provide support at every level.
–Challenge students that need an extra push. Utilize this time you wouldn’t normally have during a whole group instruction model to provide support.
-Use The CRA Model to support students. Provide manipulatives as needed for concrete learning, anchor charts for representational strategies, and challenge mastered learners to abstract concepts.
–Allow students to make mistakes. This is a great time to work on growth mindset principles!
-Encourage students to try new strategies. This creates space for students to practice and find ways that work best for them.
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-Wrap up learning. John Hattie explains that this is another crucial time for students to solidify their new learning of material.
-Reflect. Review learning targets and provide think time for students to reflect on how they did for the day.
-Check independent work. If time allows, you can discuss together some problems students had during independent time.
-Conduct a formative assessment. Some teachers may choose to engage learners in an exit activity or a parking lot for questions.
Our workshop time is a SAFE space where we learn and grow together. We have fun, we gain knowledge, and we persevere. So are you ready to dive into math workshop with your students?! Need a comprehensive resource that is simple, effective, and oh so organized to help carry out your workshop?! Grab your jam packed Math Workshop Essentials HERE! Are you stuck in planning or still have questions and want support? Please email me and I’d love to help you!
MATH WORKSHOP AND GUIDED MATH ESSESNTIALS
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