July 18, 2013

Ch. 6 - Guided Math

Hi!  This is Carol again from Still Teaching After All These Years! I am so excited that Tina assigned this chapter to me because I just love math workshop!  There are many ways to organize a math workshop in your class, and each teacher will choose what works best for her/him. After I summarize the chapter and share my thoughts, I'd like to explain how workshop has worked in my classroom and what I plan to do differently this year. Please visit my blog Still Teaching After All These Years for part 2 of this post.

Math Workshop has its origins in the math centers of the 1970's, mainly Mary Baratta-Lorton's Math Their Way.  Math Their Way was still very popular when I started teaching in the early 80's, and it was the first math training I attended when I was getting ready to teach first grade.  I loved MTW and still use many elements of the program.  (Although I am very glad you can now buy 2-color counters and don't have to spray paint lima beans in the driveway anymore!)
Math Their Way info
Here are some key points about Math Workshop from the chapter.  Math Workshop:
  •  is a flexible structure
  • provides student choice
  • requires building endurance(stamina from Daily 5!) to work independently
  • allows teachers time to work with small groups
Laney included a chart on pages 188-189 that highlights effective uses for Math Workshop.
Some considerations when choosing math games or any activity for workshop or math stations are:

  1. Make sure the game aligns with the curriculum
  2. The game should not be too complex and detailed.
  3. Before students play the game independently, make sure you have taught and practiced the game during whole group or small group time. (Trust me, you won't make this mistake more than once!)
Students can also complete work from small-group instruction during the workshop.  Once students in a small group demonstrate their understanding, they can complete the group task independently, allowing the teacher more time to work with students who need additional support.  When the whole group "gets it", you can spend more time with subsequent groups or spend time conferring with students who are completing workshop activities.  I liked using this time to listen in to the conversations my students were having with each other as they completed their work stations.

Management and organization are critical to the success of the workshop.  It is important to establish rules and expectations, perhaps collaborating with colleagues and then explicitly teach those procedures.  While introducing the workshop, be prepared to monitor and adjust as the students practice the behaviors necessary for an effective workshop.  I equate this with the way I introduce elements of the Daily 5.  The students are shown what workshop looks and sounds like, they practice and build stamina, and then anchor charts are created to remind them of the expectations.  These charts are revisited as necessary to make sure every one stays on track.

Math Workshop will allow your students to work independently and assume responsibility for their learning, while giving you time to work with small groups or individuals.  It takes some planning and organization, but it so worth it!

Some questions to consider:
1.  How do you organize your materials for easy student access during workshop?
2  What kinds of activities do you provide for your students during workshop?
3.  Do you have any tips or tricks for ensuring the workshop runs smoothly?

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1 comment:

  1. 1- I can't decide if I want to make a basket for each table that has an array of math materials so all a group would have to do is grab that basket. Or if I want everything separate.

    2- I'm actually going to use the BUILD model you talked about in your post on your blog. I found that a few months ago and love it. My activities will fall under those different categories.

    3- None yet! This will be my first year running it!