How do I organize my math block?

Over the past few years, I have played around with different ways to organize my math block. This past year, I found a method that really works for me and more importantly, for my students!


  • My math block is one hour long. However, by the time the kids get inside from recess, it's more like 55 minutes.

Days of the Week:

Math Schedule for Upper Elementary Classrooms - Whole Group, Small Group, Games, Fun!

Whole Group Lesson:

This lesson usually uses a PowerPoint presentation. I try not to use manipulatives on Mondays because it takes soooo long to get them out and distribute them to every kid in the class. (I prefer using manipulatives during my small group instruction time.) During the whole group lesson, we do lots of practicing on our mini white boards and tons of turning and talking with our math buddies.

Whole Group PowerPoint Presentation to Introduce Representing and Describing Numbers to 1 000 000.

Workshop Days:

Each workshop day starts with a quick warm up game to get the kids in the "math zone". The warm- up lasts for 10-15 minutes and I try to make it as fun and active as possible.

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

Next, students go through a set of stations with our math teams. My math teams are consist of homogeneous groups of kids that are at the same level so that I can differentiate the activities if needed. I teach a combined class (grades 4 and 5) this year so most of my stations need to be differentiated.

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

Groups visit two stations every workshop day. Each station lasts for 20 minutes. My stations include a variety of games and activities to practice the skills that we are currently working on in class. I also try to include at least one station that spirals back to something that we have already learned. In grade 4 and 5 I find that I am often including activities on multiplication and division facts.

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

One station is always the teacher station. This is where I work with a small group of students, at their level. I review concepts that were taught on Monday, we practice problems together and in 20 minutes I can get a LOT accomplished! This is the time where my students use manipulatives as it takes so much less time to distribute manipulatives to 5 students, than to 30!


We usually start each Thursday by reviewing and correcting the work that we have done that week. I give kids an opportunity to ask any questions that they may have.

Next we write a short summative assessment. It is usually one double sided page and is directly related to the skill that we learned that week.

After the assessment is completed, if we have extra time, my class loves to play extra math games!

Review and Re-Teaching:

On Fridays we use technology to review our week's work. I LOVE using the program Mathletics in my classroom. I have a blog post about Mathletics that you can check out if you are interested in more info!

While the kids are working on Mathletics, I re-teach and extend learning with individual students or small groups based on the results of yesterday's assessment.

Interested in this type of math instruction, I have a place value unit in my store that follows this model. Click here to take a peek!

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

Next week, we are going to talk about how I organize all of my math manipulatives and station supplies. Be sure to pin the image below so that you can come back to this post!

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

Celebrating Dot Day with Big Kids

This week my class had so much fun celebrating International Dot Day! Here are some ideas for how you can celebrate with your own class!

Art Projects for International Dot Day with Big Kids

1) Dress to Impress:

I knew that I wanted to hook my students without giving too much away. So, instead of telling them what I had planned, I invited them to wear their most "Dot-tastic" clothing! We all wore polka dots and it was so much fun to look out into a sea of dots all day! Plus, everyone showed up on time and ready to learn! A total win-win!

2) Read "The Dot" By Peter Reynolds

This story is truly beautiful and it is perfect to tie into "Growth Mindset" and community building lessons that we will be continuing with all through the month of September!

3) Respond to the Book

Laura Candler has an AWESOME Dot FREEBIE! You can find it here. I simply printed out the task cards, put my students into groups and had them discuss. After about 10 minutes of discussion, I put two of the task cards under the document camera and had students reflect in their reading response notebooks. A quick and easy assessment!

4) Make some Dot Art!

I decided to make two dot art projects with my class!
The first project was a watercolour dot. 

Step 1: 

Draw a large dot on a piece of white paper. 

Step 2: 

Use masking tape to make a design on your dot. I chose to do stripes but some of my students wrote their initials, symbols and even words with the masking tape!
Art project for International Dot Day with Upper Elementary Kids

Step 3: 

Use watercolour paint to cover all white space. 

Art project for International Dot Day with Upper Elementary Kids

Step 4: 

Let the paint dry and then remove the masking tape.
Art project for International Dot Day with Upper Elementary Kids

Don't forget to sign your artwork like in "The Dot". 

Art Projects for International Dot Day with Big Kids

The next art project that we did involved using Q-tips to make the dots!

Art Projects for International Dot Day with Big Kids

Step 1: 

Students trace their hands on black construction paper. 

Step 2: 

Use Q-tips dipped in paint to make dots around the hands. I encouraged my students to create unique patterns. Early finishers drew a different image and completed the project again. Some chose to draw houses, trucks, and some even traced their feet!

I hope that you will be able to use some of these ideas when you celebrate Dot Day! Remember, Dot Day is September 15th ish so it's never too late to celebrate!

Celebrating International Dot Day with Upper Elementary Students

5) Help Students Make Their Mark on the World!

The last activity that we did for Dot Day was to brainstorm all of the ways that kids can make a mark on the world! My class came up with some great ideas like:
  • making sandwiches for the homeless
  • taking Valentines to a Seniors Home
  • Playing with kids who seem lonely during recess
We are going to try and use as many of their ideas as possible throughout the school year to make our mark on our school, our community, our city and the world!

If you like these ideas and want more simple ideas to use in your classroom, be sure to click on the icon at the top of the page to follow me on Instagram and on Pinterest!

Brownie Points - A Whole Group Classroom Management Strategy

Brownie Points- A classroom management strategy to reinforce positive behaviours

This week, my class went on a field trip! Yes I know... it was the first week of school and many people said I was crazy. But... they were AMAZING! We were chosen to be at an art unveiling so we couldn't change the date. One huge motivator for their awesome behaviour was Brownie Points!

In my class, we earn Brownie Points by receiving compliments from other teachers, administration, parents and other adults.

Once we earn 12 points, I bring in brownies as a reward.

The kids are super motivated by this and it is a great strategy to reinforce positive behaviour in a multitude of situations.
Here are some of my favourite situations to use Brownie Points:
- with a substitute teacher
- during specials like music
- on field trips
- hallway behaviour
- recess behaviour

Want to try Brownie Points in your classroom? Click here to find everything that you need in my TPT store. Best of all, its only $1.00!