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Monday, 10 July 2017

Launching Math Workshop

Launching Math Workshop properly is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure that you will have a successful math block all year long!

During my math workshop time, I expect students to be able to work quietly and stay on task for 20 minute periods of time. This can sometimes be a lot easier said that done! However, I am here to tell you that it is absolutely possible! Every year I have students in my class with ADHD, English Language Learners, students with learning disabilities and severe behaviour needs. Every single one of these kids participated successfully in math workshop!

Tip 1: 

Establish Expectations

On our first day of Guided Math, we have a class discussion about the expectations that we need to have in place in order to be successful. I like to have students make suggestions and we add them to an anchor chart. The list of expectations below is what I try to lead my students towards developing.

Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies

Tip 2:

Build Stamina

Just like in reading workshop, your students NEED to practice building stamina. I explain to students that in order to be able to work on math games for an extended period of time, we need to practice and build our stamina. If we were trying to become the next olympic marathon champion we wouldn't start by running a marathon on our first training day. In fact, doing so would probably make us sick! Instead, we would start by running for maybe two minutes. Then the next day, we might run for five minutes. Then eight minutes, and so forth. 

Once kids are excited to start building stamina, I start by giving students a really simple game to play with a partner. This game usually reviews something that they learned the year before. This place value shaker game is a great one to use. The kids love it and it is super simple to differentiate. Check out the game here for FREE!

I take a few moments to model the game for students under the document camera. Then, I pick two students to model how to play the game appropriately (including how to set it up and clean it up.) Next, I choose two students (usually students that I know will struggle to follow the expectations) to model how "not" to play the game. I encourage them to break as many of the expectations mentioned above as possible. The kids LOVE this part! The important thing is to ask these same kids to model how to play properly afterwards, so that they know that they are capable of participating. 

Once I feel like everyone understands the expectations, I send them off to play. 
I start a timer and explain to my students that we are trying to get started as quickly as possible, to make good use of our math time.

After all students have started playing, I record the amount of set up time and I start a new timer. Then I plop down in the corner to watch my kids play. I do not get up and walk around because I don't want them to get used to me there. As soon as one kid stops playing properly, I ask the entire class to clean up and come back to the carpet. Once again I start a timer to see how long it takes them to clean up.

Once we are all back at the carpet, we celebrate the amount of math stamina that we had and the time that it took us to clean up/ get started. Then I ask for suggestions on what we could do next time to increase our stamina and decrease our clean up/ getting started time. Lastly, we track all 3 numbers on our stamina charts. If there is still time left in the class, we try again, this time aiming to build our stamina a little bit more!

Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies
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Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies

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Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies

Click HERE to get the stamina building and math expectations charts for free!

Tip 3:

Take lots of movement breaks to set kids up for success!

It can sometimes be hard for kids to focus and build stamina for long periods of time. I like to take lots of movement breaks in between periods of stamina building. We use lots of Go Noodle and YouTube videos to refresh our brains and our bodies!

Are you interested in starting math workshop in your upper elementary classroom? Check out these awesome units that include:

  • Whole Group Warm Ups
  • Small Group Teaching Ideas
  • Stations and Games
  • Assessments
  • PowerPoint Presentation to introduce the topic
  • Flip Books for student practice
Click on the images below to check out the units!
Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies
Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies


Be sure to pin the image below so that you can come back to this post when you are ready to start launching your Guided Math block!

Launching Math Workshop in the upper elementary classroom - with freebies