If you are considering implementing a math workshop model in your classroom this year, then you found the right place! I could talk about math workshop with guided math all day! After launching it in my classroom, math became my favorite part of the school day. My 3rd grade students were highly engaged, building a love of learning and math, and crushing district and state-mandated assessments. I couldn’t believe the difference!
This blog post will…
- suggest 10 things you need before launching math workshop in your classroom
- recommend a math workshop resource that will transform your math instruction
- offer free time-saving tips and ideas to make your life as a teacher easier
10 Things Elementary Teachers Need for Math Workshop
- A classroom layout conducive to math workshop: When designing your classroom layout, consider where your whole group area, centers, and small group instruction table will be. Each of these spaces should be thoughtfully chosen. For example, when you are choosing a whole group area location, think about things that you cannot move: Outlets, windows, doors, white boards, interactive white boards, and projectors. If you need help with this, check out my guided math workshop resource for a step-by-step guide for how to design your dream classroom!
- A numeracy-rich classroom environment: After you have set up your classroom furniture (desks, tables, rugs, etc.), you are ready to take the next step. You’ll want to think of your classroom as a large tool kit for your students. The anchor charts, bulletin boards, and other wall displays (like a math word wall) should support student learning. Check out this blog post that offers tons of free tips and ideas for how to create a numeracy rich environment in your classroom. You can also find more detailed information in my guided math workshop printable guide.
- A defined math block structure: Based on the amount of time your school district requires you to teach math and your individual schedule, you’ll need to create a math block structure that encompasses all of the main components of math workshop: Mini lesson, rotations, and closing. Ask yourself how much time will you allot to each component. This blog post offers examples for 60 minute, 75 minute, and 90 minute math blocks to help you define and structure your math time, which will ease planning tremendously and save you lots of time.
- Established organization systems: Organization is the key to your success! Consider how you will organize all of your math materials (teaching materials, manipulatives, games, etc.). Some materials will need to be accessible to you, your students, or both, while others can be stored away until later in the school year. My resource includes pictures and ideas for the best organization systems out there for organizing everything you need for math workshop.
- A thorough classroom management plan: As you know, classroom management is another key to teaching success. It’s important to have procedures and routines in place at the start of the year, so that your room runs smoothly all year long! I always recommend writing down every procedure and routine, so you can be sure you don’t miss a thing. Being proactive will make life so much easier! What are the expectations for the different components of math workshop? What are the expectations for cleaning up and transitions? There are so many things to consider! If you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, be sure to check out my printable resource, which goes into detail to help you create a classroom that runs itself. What’s better than that?
- A posted math rotation board: This rotation board will be part of your classroom management plan. It will communicate to students which group they are in, their partners, and what they will be working on that day. You can either post it on a wall in your classroom or project it on your wall. Grab my rotation board to save you tons of time.
- A consistent system for lesson planning: Having a math workshop lesson plan template is a big time saver when lesson planning. I include my favorite lesson plan templates in my guide, but you can create your own to fit your needs. Keep it simple, but be sure to include the most important components (lesson objectives(s), essential question(s), standard(s), etc.).
- A plan for forming groups and partnerships: How will you group your students? What will the groupings be based on? Will you use a formative assessmentat the beginning of each unit? I recommend dividing students into four groups based on their proficiency on the standard or topic you are working on. It will make it so you can meet students’ needs in your small guided math group. I go into detail into all of this in my course all about math workshop.
- An abundance of math resources: Every elementary classroom needs tons of math manipulatives (base ten blocks, money coins, snap cubes, unifix cubes, counters, pattern blocks, small clocks, etc.). What each classroom needs is based on their grade level. Math manipulatives are so important because they help students build a conceptual understanding of the concepts and skills they are learning. In addition to manipulatives, elementary (first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade) classrooms need to have read alouds, games, and activities that are appropriate for their grade level. You can never have enough math resources!
- A proven plan for how to launch it: There are so many procedures and routines you need to teach your students at the beginning of the year. These first couple of weeks are critical for the success of your math workshop. In my guided math workshop resource, I have lesson plans for the first two weeks of math workshop written for you. They are ready to be printed – it’s a big time-saver!