Create Your Best Math Workshop

 Hello!  I am preparing for some upcoming conferences beginning next month.  As I am preparing, I have been doing some reflecting on all things math. I can’t help but notice how much I tweak adjust my math workshop (guided math) time each year!  I am wondering if you find this true for yourself as well!

 Because guided math workshop can match the style of the teacher and the personality of the class, it tends to take on a different feel each year.  Regardless, here are the essentials I have found for building a solid Guided Math Workshop in your classroom.

First off, just like we do for our readers, we want to live and learn in a mathematically rich environment!  Rather than going all out on seasonal decor in our classrooms, let’s go all out on academic decor.  Take your learning objectives and create an invigorating and exciting learning space!

Another BIG essential for math workshop, is a solid structure.  Because math workshop tends to have a free flowing spirit about it, you have to button down the hatches and establish a clear structure complete with procedures before during and after every rotation.  If you are firm in your expectations…  and I mean unwavering yall, then you can rest assured that students will fall in line.  After the first two months of being Sergeant Strict Teacher, you will find that this is the BEST part of your day.

Let’s talk about the one or two exceptions to the rule for your structured math workshop.  Those students that leave a path of destruction and dysfunction within your small group rotations need to be removed from the experience.  Place them at a desk next to your small group.  They will complete the work there as they inadvertently listen to your small group lesson 4 or 5 times.  😉  If and when they are asking to rejoin the math workshop structure, you can decide how many rotations they may try per day until they have been allowed to participate.  As soon as the behavior declines, start this process again.

Now to the exciting world of math lessons!

Let’s start with your warm up.  This is a quick connection and review of a skill that requires many repetitions to master.   You can see an example of math warm-ups in this post.

As we move into the mini-lesson we want to hit on 4 components. This is the time to entice, excite, and engage your learners!  Pull out the props!  Relate math to life experiences.  Primary math is used in real life constantly so this is actually my favorite part!  The biggest thing to remember is that mini-lessons are very focused. Mini-Lessons have one key idea that you want to introduce and practice in a meaningful hands on way.  Then STOP!  🙂  Time may fluctuate based on concept, but shoot for 20 mins or even less!  You want the bulk of time to be spent in small group.  Wondering what to do for mini-lessons?  Check this post for ideas.

Next using your guided math rotation system of choice, you will break out into small group rotations.  This is where you really customize the experience for your class.  Which choices would you like your small groups to visit each day?  How long will they be there?

What works for you one year will need adjusting the next!  Don’t get too set in your ways!  #guilty

I have 10 minute rotations of the following:

S-small group        with teacher
T-technology         on computer or ipads
A-apply learning   independent practice
C-create                 math journal
K-kinesthetic         hands on math center

For a post specifically about these math rotations click here.

Finally, let’s focus on the targeted small group lessons.  There are so many exciting ways to teach math concepts.  Getting to see how your students talk, think, and do math in the safe setting of small group,  will show you exactly what your students need to be the best mathematicians they can be.

Take the excitement of your new concept from the mini-lesson, and go all out in your small group lesson.  This is where you really get into the heart of discussion, reasoning, procedures, and strategy.  For complete guided math lesson plans and materials check out this post.

If you would rather just shop for all types of math resources to supplement your rockin’ workshop click the picture below.

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  1. Thank you sooo much for your amazing posts about Guided Math as they are sooooo helpful <3
    Now if we could just get you to do this amazing work for 2nd grade 😉

  2. I dove into your math structure head first not knowing what to expect because I had never taught math that way before. Girl, I cannot begin to tell you have your ways and ideas of teaching math have completely changed my math block. My kids BEG for it, DAILY. "Are we doing CATS math today?". It's like they are broken records. Reading groups have always been my favorite part of the day because I know my kids SO well and I can see this becoming my favorite part of the day as well. I can't believe I taught math any other way than this for the past 4 years! Thank you, thank you, thank you!