Math Workshop...So GLAD I Went There!!!

I am linking up super, duper late to Holly's:
I have been wanting to join this for a while BUT I have been so stinkin busy!!!
Crazy busy I tell you!
So, Tried it Tuesday is sharing about something you tried and whether it worked or didn't work, you get the idea:)
My Tried It:  Math Workshop
This year, I bit the bullet and changed the entire way I teach Math.
I taught Math this year in a workshop/rotation format.
Thanks to my super good friend Elizabeth, Fun in Room 4B, talking me through the whole process, encouraging me not to give up, and sharing lots of ideas for it, I am so glad I did it and once I got the hang of it I haven't looked back:)
This is my rotations board at the beginning of the year.
This is my board now:)   Very similar to a "Daily 5", just for math instead.  I am a huge fan of working with the kids in small groups:)
My kids are grouped based on assessments and ability.  I have 3 rotations a day.  I think the "traditional" math workshop calls for 4 but I don't have that time, so I switch one out based on our lesson.  My rotations are:
Teacher Time = small group lesson instruction with me
At your Seat = Usually a worksheet or page from the lesson the day before.  Sometimes other work/review.
Math Facts = Anything to practice math fact fluency.  I have Mathsharks, Ipad, computers, flashcards in teams, bottle caps.....lots of options
Hands On = different activities the coincide with the lesson, usually with manipulatives
Teacher Time and Math Facts I do for sure daily.  I switch back and forth between the other 2:)
What I Love about Math Workshop:
- I love working with the kids in smaller groups.  I have their attention and there's not a lot of room for drifting off or day dreaming, like you sometimes see in whole group.  I feel a much better connection with the kids in small group.
- By working in the smaller groups, you can quickly see who gets it and who doesn't
- Students get extra time if they don't really get the lesson
- Kids that totally get it can move on in the rotations so I have more time with the ones who really need it
- Based on classroom assessments and district tests, I have seen huge growth with my kiddos this year.  I feel like they are way further along than my group last year.
What I Don't Love about Math Workshop:
- I can honestly say that once I got the "hang of it" and it started to flow, there is nothing that I don't love!  Well, there is one Math block is not long enough!!!!
I have no control over that, so have to make it work for me:)
What Can I do Differently?:
- There are many things I can do differently.  I want to really work on activities this summer to add to my workshop rotations. 
- I want to be a little more organized with my set up and rotations.
- I want to try to use the assessments even more to drive my groups and instruction.
All in all, I have loved using this format this year and so have the kids.  Do I do rotations every single day?  No.....that depends on the lesson.  If it's a really tough one that I think most will struggle with, I will do whole group instruction.  Can I tell ya how spoiled my kiddos are though?  They get totally bummed if we aren't doing workshop:)
This is just the tip of the iceberg for teaching in a math workshop format.  You really need to check out Elizabeth's posts on this.  She is the math master at doing this:)))
Do you teach math in a workshop format?
Do you like it?
Do you have any great ideas for me?  Love to hear what works for you:)
I am always looking to tweak things:))


  1. I really connected with a few things you talked about in your post. I also have tried doing Math Workshop and when I first started I quickly became overwhelmed- I'm glad you had your friend's support to keep you going. I also want to include more hands-on activities and always say I will do that in the summer - I get a handle on about 2 units and then when those are over I become overwhelmed again!! Thanks for sharing your success, it will help motivate me to keep going!

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  2. I don't teach Math in a workshop style, but would like to learn more about it so I will definitely check out that link.

    I just found out I'm looping up to 5th grade with my 4th graders next year....eek!

  3. Awww, thanks, Tara. I'm not sure if I'm a "math master", but I do love teaching this way! I could hit a "like" button on everything you said here. I love that I meet with my kids and can help them in small groups! I really feel like I have been way more effective this way. I'm loving the evolution of your math board, by the way :) So cute! I also had to laugh when you talked about how your kids are bummed when you don't do rotations. I usually hear a "awwwwwww" when we do whole group. My kids love, love, love rotations!!

    You rock, friend!!!


    Fun in Room 4B

  4. I teach in math through a workshop format and I am also IN LOVE with it! I have truly learned my student's math strenghths and weaknesses. Two summers ago, I spent several weeks developing games, task cards, and other practice activities to use for the hands-on rotation. It took a lot of time, but over the last two years it has been worth it. Now, I just make new things here and there to freshen up things a bit. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    Foreman Teaches

  5. I loooooove math workshop!! Glad you stuck with it! If you want, check on my blog under the math workshop tag- I've shared some things I do!! :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  6. I teach using math workshop as well. I love it! I do two 25 minute rotations each day and a small whole-class lesson at the end. I love getting to teach small groups of students.

  7. I use math workshop with my second graders, and found that I also only have time for three rotations. My summer goal is also to tweak my rotations. I'm evaluating those skills that really need to get practiced all year long (money, measurement, time, etc.) but sort of tend to get lumped into isolated units, and trying to work them into a type of real-world-situational-dramatic-play sort of thing. Now that I wrote it, it sounds just goofy. But anyhow- I love the format. My only problem is that when I spend the time reaching the kids at where they are, I can't keep up with the curriculum pacing...

    The Meek Moose

  8. How long do you have each day to teach math?
    I'm curious because I'm trying to figure out how I can get this Math Workshop concept to fly in my middle school classroom. I am moving from a three man to a two man team next year which adds one period of social studies to my plate. BUT after talking to my teammate, we are considering taking 2 days of social studies and splitting our classes by ability. She would teach a high SS group one of the days, and I would teach a low Math
    Then we would switch which would allow me to work on extension pieces too. It's rolling around in my brain about whether I can pull it off. I'm glad you stuck with it! Let me know.
    Enjoy your Friday! FINALLY


    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  9. I love this post! I plunged into Daily 5 this year (thanks to your help!) and now I need to revamp math. I added a lot more math center time this year but I really like the idea of small group instruction. Thank you so much for the inspiration and sharing as always, friend! You're the best:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  10. I've been using the Math Workshop model for a few years now and I can't even imagine going back to another way. Math does seem to fly by every day we do it. The few days when we don't get to do it seem to crawl.

    The key is building up a huge repertoire of math games and meaningful independent activities I think. That takes a lot of work, but is totally worth it in the end. I often use task cards posted around the room to get the kids moving a bit more at the independent station.

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason

  11. I love the idea of Math Workshop. I have 2-3 levels of Math in one room. I spent so much time trying to get organized and gather resources this year that I ran out of time to really organize Math stations. I would like to introduce more stations next year.
    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack
    Balancing the Backpack

  12. Thank you for your detailed post and photos-such a great explanation of how you run your math workshop. I want to incorporate small groups more next year. Thanks for sharing!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  13. I don't teach math right now so I can't really say anything. :)

    BUT-I might be teaching 6th grade math next year! YIKES! I REALLY want to teach small group, so math workshop sounds the way to go.


  14. Thanks for the information. I always love motivating posts!
    I am wondering about small group size. If I were to have three groups, I would have to have nine students in a group. Is that manageable?
    If I have more groups, I won't be able to get to them all in each day.
    So, I haven't been sure if doing math this way is feasible. Ideas?

  15. I just started guided math in my classroom this year and I feel the same way! Love it but still lots of things I want to adjust for next year. That's what summer is for. I'm your newest follower :-)

  16. Thanks for sharing!!! You've got me thinking for next year now!! I'd love to find out how you use the bottle caps and the "math it up" numbers on your display.

    The Bender Bunch

  17. I created a skip-counting card game to help kids with math facts. My husband made a version for the iPad. There's a free version and a 99 cent version. Kids (and adults) love it.

  18. I use this and LOVE it. I also have 3 groups instead of the traditional 4. My favorite part of math workshop is that when teachers need to push in, they can work with the small group they would normally be pulling out.

    Lesson Plans and Lattes

  19. Thank you so much for showing a way that working in small groups will work in fourth grade!! Next year I am moving from Kindergarten, which I have taught for eleven years, to fourth grade and was so afraid that I was going to have to completely give up my math small groups. I was totally bummed but am now SO excited about using them in fourth grade!

  20. Hi all! I am so intrigued by tis idea of a workshop model in math because I absolutely adore my reading workshop model (off topic...sorry :) anyways my concerns though re how do you fit all the groups in? And does that seem overwhelming if ymare teaching the same lesson four times in one day? Domyoumhave a co teacher or are you doing it alone? I really want to try this. How do you start the year off with it? Do you have to start a few lessons then move into it?

    1. My math groups are done by grouping students according to needs: High, Medium, Low. I begin my math rotation with whole group instruction on Monday. I model at the beginning of the week what each station looks like and where they will be going if technology. My students know what is expected in each station. I begin the rotation with my low group. This allows me to see who needs help and who understood the concept. My students in this group really need "teacher time" to help them understand the lesson. Usually within the week I only have maybe 2 or 3 students who need to be re-taught. While I am teaching small group A, small group B are on the computer/ipad, or doing a "must do" (paper over the concept they are learning) for a grade. The must do is usually given the week after new concept is introduced. Small group C would be in "partner box" working on games, math manipulates, flash cards, or whatever I put in their box to do that week. There are usually 4-5 boxes with different activities for them to choose from each day. They must switch and not repeat any boxes during the week. After 20 minutes the timer goes off, students clean up and rotates. Group A goes to C, Group C goes to B, and group B comes to me.

  21. I do a combination of whole group day and workshop style. One thing that works really well and helps push things to the next level is math browse boxes. It is a pencil box sized box or a large ziploc bag that each kid has with independent activities, games, flash cards, etc that are at the just right level for that kid. It means having a large repertoire of activities and ideas but the payoff is huge!

    The Math Maniac

  22. Is this something that can be implemented in the middle of the school year or do you really have to wait in order to take the summer to prepare the station materials?

    1. I actually started after the school year had started:)

    2. I actually started after the school year had started:)

  23. I'm wanting to switch to a workshop model now since it's the start of the second semester. I"m worried about not having enough math games/activities for them to do. Also, how do you assess if they are doing things correctly when they are on their own?
    How many graded papers/tasks do you assign or collect each week?



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