My students love our math workshop time. I teach math at the same time every day. Whenever I announce math workshop, cheers echo throughout the room. Yes, cheers, even though math workshop happens daily in our classroom. I think the cheers have to do with the element of surprise as my first graders anticipate what they will be doing at each of the rotations. My workshop revolves around four rotations: Teacher, Computers, Independent Work, and Games. I start with a whole class focus lesson, which includes a review of the rotations, and an explanation of any new game that is introduced. I end math workshop with a whole class sharing session.
Rotation 1: Working with the teacher.
Group 1 meets me on the rug near our SMART Board or Interactive Whiteboard. Since my district uses the Everyday Math program, my instruction and rotations are centered around the lesson that I'm teaching in Everyday Math. We usually work on our math journal pages together or in partnerships, as I project the math journal page on the SMART Board. Sometimes we use manipulatives to demonstrate our learning. At other times, we use the tools on the SMART Board to support our learning. Everyday math has a huge collection of eTools that students can interact with.
|Working in Math Journals|
|Working with Base Ten Blocks and Dominoes|
Group 2 starts at the computers. We have four classroom computers. Students work in pairs and individually. I choose math games that reinforce the skills and concepts that we are working on that day. One of my favorite math game sites is http://www.abcya.com/ They have a ton of games that are organized by grade level, concept, and themes (ex. holiday themes). The Everyday Math site also has a ton of games that my students enjoy playing and learning with. I allow my students choice when we use the games from Everyday Math. They learn how to play a variety of games and at varying degrees of difficulty. Allowing them choice with the games is highly engaging and keeps them interested in playing and learning.
|Math Games on the Computer|
During rotation three, students work independently. One of the favorites at this rotation is Number Scrolls. Students use hundreds charts to write and record numbers. They tape additional charts together to create a scroll. As an incentive I have a Thousands Club lunch twice a month with students who reach a 1,000 number milestone. One of my students had lunch with me 6 times since his scroll was over 6,000. I also have leveled math packets that students often choose to work on, and baskets of math trade books students may read. Using templates and pattern blocks to design pictures are examples of other math related experiences students participate in at this rotation.
|Concentrating on a Number Scroll|
Students play math games both individually and with a partner at this rotation. Most of the games are from the Everyday Math program. Some of our favorites are Number Top-It, Rolling to 100, and Beat The Calculator. We also use some of the games from the Daily 5 website. One of our favorite games from that site is, Sum It Up. When we are not playing math games, we sometimes complete investigations as a group or with a partner at this rotation.
|Using a Balance Scale|
Math workshop is manageable for me. My math block is 90 minutes long. I spend 10 to 15 minutes on the focus lesson, and each rotation is 15 minutes long. My students rotate four times in order to participate in each rotation, and it takes an hour to go through all four. I leave 15 minutes at the end of math workshop for sharing and putting away supplies. Once students learn the rotation routines, the rest is easy. This chart helps us stay on track. If someone forgets their group or rotation, we can refer to our chart which I keep posted the entire school year. My students are very independent during our workshop time. They know what the expectations are for a successful workshop, and any problems that come up are discussed during our share time.
|Rotation Board |
Names are across the top.
One of the most important benefits to doing math workshop is that learning is measurable. I know my students as mathematicians better than I ever did when I taught math in a "whole group" lesson format. By working with small groups, I know when students are struggling with a concept, and I can give them extra support. My quiet students don't get left out or overlooked. I can also enrich the instruction for my stronger students so they are challenged and continue to grow as mathematicians and learners. Students are grouped by mixed ability and they support, encourage, and challenge each other as a community of learners.
I'm still tweaking Math Workshop in my classroom. I want to incorporate more learning with my SMART Board. I'm thinking about making that a separate rotation on its own. My students enjoy interacting with the SMART Board and are totally engaged when using it.
What does math look like in your classroom? What role does technology play in your math instruction?