Sunday, September 8, 2013

Math Workshop!

Last week was all about getting to know each other and well, I didn't really hit much curriculum.

This week, though, kicks off with my favorite - Math Workshop!

I based my math workshop model off of the one that Beth Newingham uses - if you haven't seen her site, you've GOT to check it out here!

It's a simple model that has worked really well for me, with, of course, a few tweaks each year to best suit the needs of my current students.

The general system is this:
Three groups.
Mini-lesson, whole class, starts the instruction
Meet with the teacher
Practice (math journal pages or something of the like, sometimes project activities)
Project/Play (fact games, or the like)
Wrap-up, whole class, ends the instruction

I have previews (also known as a pre-test, in parental language) for each unit.  (Everyday Math, third and fourth grade previews and reviews available HERE on my TPT $tore.)
The kids take this a day or two before the unit starts, with the reminder:
"You haven't been taught any of this yet!  Remember that!  I want to see what you might already know - but I don't expect you to know this stuff yet!"

From the preview, kids are split into three groups.  The groups are generally determined by preview scores.  It's usually pretty clear, too.  You've got the handful of kids that really get it (for example, on the unit one preview that my class just took, about 4 kids got about65%+ correct.)  Then there's the handful of kids that have never seen it (same preview, about 8 kids got about 6% correct)  Finally, there's the group that kinda get it, but kinda don't (they got about 40% correct.)

Learning targets are posted for each subject area.
Group one usually consists of the kids that got the lowest score on the preview.  In my mind they are my "support group" but on paper, they're the green group, the yellow group, or the blue group.  They start with me for the lesson, then head directly to the journal page or "practice" activity (often started with me) before they scamper off to play the assigned games.  When group one is with me, I take the learning target and drill it in however I need to, to ensure they are getting the basic concepts needed to be successful.

Group two starts with the games.  From there, they work with me for the lesson.  Finally, they head to their seats to work on the journal pages.  This group is called my "target" group, as they are pretty much right on grade level.  (Though, again, they're either green, yellow, or blue!)  When group two is with me, we're usually following along the general lesson as if it were being taught whole class, keeping the learning target in mind as our guide.

Group three starts with the practice/journal pages.  They are my "enrichment" group.  (Though they are referred to as either blue, green, or yellow, too!)  The goal is that they problem solve to figure out the lesson together.  The learning target helps guide their practice.  Then they head to the games before coming to me.  When they're with me, we clear up any confusion about the practice activity, and I add the next layer - either a more challenging task utilizing the same skills, or extending the activity.  Sometimes, it's pre-teaching for what's coming ahead, too!

The length of each rotation is determined by the group in which I am working with at the moment.  It usually ends up that rotation one is about 20-25 minutes, when I'm directly teaching the support group  Rotation two, when I'm teaching the target group, is usually 15-20 minutes.  The final rotation when I'm working with the enrichment group, is usually 10 minutes.  Yes, this means that the support group only gets 10 minutes for games, but that's about all they can handle by then.  If any group finishes their practice pages early, they then go directly into games.

Ignore project, it should say play!
So where do these tasks come from?  Whatever math curriculum you use!  Of course, I supplement the practice activities and the games from all over the place - Marilyn Burns, MEBA, Exemplars, web resources, you name it.

Mini-lesson - whole class - 5 minutes (math message, review learning target, whatev!)
Rotation 1 - 25 minutes
Rotation 2 - 20 minutes
Rotation 3 - 10 minutes
Wrap up - whole class - 5-10 minutes (correct practice page, review learning target, etc)
Total time on math instruction: 70-75 minutes a day

DISCLAIMER: Sometimes math lessons do NOT lend themselves to math workshop!  In cases like this where whole class instruction is better, go for it!  For example, we have a few lessons where kids are doing surveys of the whole class, or completing probability activities, or geometry building tasks.  I teach whole class as needed.

DISCLAIMER 2:  Once you get to know your kids, groupings may be modified slightly.  For example, especially when I get to a lesson that isn't necessarily clear-cut for the three groups, I will often divide the class into two groups - the group that picks things up rather quickly, and the group that needs a little more time to figure things out.

DISCLAIMER 3:  Practice/Play rotations often include fact practice (using a variety of resources, including xtramath) differentiated to the individual students' needs.

DISCLAIMER 4:  Flexibility is key!  Previews are given before each unit, and therefore groups are mixed up each unit.  While one unit the blue group may have been my enrichment group, to keep the kids on their toes (and clueless to my grouping methods!) the next time around, blue might be my support group!  The process begins over each unit, so that I can best differentiate for the content at hand.

More pictures coming soon!

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