KinderGals: Classroom Set Up Math Workshop

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Classroom Set Up Math Workshop

It seems that we all give our language arts block lots of attention and time and that often math is something that happens very quickly in a large group setting. What if we gave math the same degree of attention in planning and time as we do reading, writing, centers….? For most teachers, the biggest hurdle to doing math centers is set up, organization, and management.
Here are some of our tips to manage and operate Math Workshop:
It always helps to have a plan. The Workshop Structure gives us that! This is the structure that we use:
1. Start off with a mini lesson.
*The lesson follows a predictable pattern. For each part we want to follow the same sequence and use the same language pattern each day.
During the connect part of the lesson we are reminding children what we did yesterday. This ensure that all children are in the same spot and ready to go.  Say, "Remember yesterday when we..."
During the teach part, we name and model the new learning. It is super important that we show them what it looks like. Before I knew differently, I found myself simply giving directions. But, I know now that I want to take on the role of the learner. I want to share my thinking, Say, "Today I am going to show you....Let me show you what I mean."
*Active Engagement  
During the active engagement the children attempt the new learning. Your role is to move around the children and collect data. Who is getting it? Who needs extra support in a small group setting?  Keep your conversations short and sweet with the kiddos. You don't want the mini lesson to become a small group lesson! Say, "Now let me see you try." 
*Link The link is where we remind the children what we just learned. This is an excellent way to build academic vocabulary. Say, "Remember, today and everyday, good mathematicians..."
*Keep it short and sweet, like 10 minutes sweet.
Work Time
After the mini lesson we move to our math centers. I run 5 centers:
  • *Data
  • *Measurement
  • *Number and Algebraic Thinking
  • *Number and Operations
  • *Geometry
Each of the 5 centers has a“Have-To” activity. What is a “Have-To”?
  • *Something that everyone has to do.
  • *A review of previously taught standards.
  • *An activity that they have done something similar in the past.
  • *It is NEVER a new teach, only a review.
Each day, the children visit one of the 5 areas. Each day, they rotate with their “family” or group to the next area. In other words, I am not ringing a bell and rotating during the day. They stay in one area the whole day.
We use plastic shoe box tube to store the “have to” centers—one set for literacy and one set for math.
Slide8You might be wondering, if they stay in the same area all day, don't they get bored? Don't some get done and have nothing to do? Nope! When they are done with the “have-to” activity, they chose from the “can-dos”.
What is a “can-do”? Can do activities are activities that I do not check! They are meaningful activities where the children can work independently, creating their own learning. Of course, there is a lot of scaffolding going on at the beginning of the year! Some of the can do centers are:
  • *Songs Books. (I have made a lot of Jack Hartmann and Shari Sloane’s songs into little music books. They are in my tpt store.) I put a cd pocket on the back and burn just that song onto the cd. So it’s like a listening center of math music.
  • *Manipuatives
  • *Math Books. I pull all the math books out of my collection and divide it into 5 tubs. That makes a tub for each of the 5 areas.
  • *Games that have been taught.
We store the “can-dos” in these 3 drawer stacks. There is one of them in each of the 5 areas to hold the choices.
Small Groups
While the kids are working in their centers, I pull small group.
*I pull children from each of the center areas to come to my table.
*I look at what standard I am teaching, then group the children according to where they are on that particular standard.
*So…these groups are fluid…constantly changing depending on what standard I am teaching.
*This is where the new learning occurs.
*It may reinforce what you did in your mini lesson or be an activity for a different standard in the same strand.
My friend Michele and I decided to write units for each month to help us with our small groups. We wanted to  be sure that we could do one activity and just modify it to meet the needs of all of our kids. LESS WORK! We finished two units this summer, Shapes and Counting because we knew that we would be busy with the beginning of the year.
Share Time
 Here is where we come back to the carpet to review what we did that day during math. It is also the time when I build my anchor charts to review what we did in our mini lesson.
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N Poole said...

Hi, thank you for sharing this. I am moving to a younger stage this year and think it might be a great time to implement centres. How long do you give the groups at the station each day? Thanks

Unknown said...

Do you have those adorable animal labels available for purchase? I am just starting my classroom set up for transitional kindergarten and would LOVE those!

Kim and Megan said...

Our math time is usually 45-60 minutes. We have a 10 minute mini lesson and about a 5-10 minute wrap up at the end. During the middle the children do their have to and then their can do's. The have to usually takes 15 minutes to do. I am also calling them to my table during that time.

Kim and Megan said...

Those are from Megan's class d├ęcor pack. You can get it here:

Kim and Megan said...

We did an additional post to answer all of the questions. You can find it here:

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