In my last few years of teaching, our district adopted the
math workshop model. We were eager to
jump in and try it because it just made sense.
Everything was taught in units with a chance to spiral our curriculum
and review certain topics as needed. This
was a vast improvement over the math curriculum that the district had created
that we had been using prior to this change.
One of our biggest challenges was figuring out where to start. At the time, math workshop was a new concept
so there were not many resources out there to help us get started. We were very comfortable with teaching
reading and writing workshop but we had read many books and followed the
leaders in the industry to get started with those. Where was our math version of Lucy Calkins or
Debbie Miller? We had so many questions
and nowhere to turn. How did we set up
math workshop? How was it similar to
reading or writing workshop? How was it
different from how we taught literacy? Was
it really just a fancy name for centers?
After some district inservices and talking to other teachers in our
district who had already tried this new method in their classrooms, we jumped
in without the safety net of a published author telling us what to do. The first year we tried several different
versions until we found one that worked for us.

Math workshop has three major components – mini-lesson,
independent practice and share. While
this can be done in a variety of ways, it is usually done through the use of
centers/stations/rotations. Having
students rotate through different stations allows them to have different forms
of independent practice from worksheets to games to technology to task cards
and more. It also allows teachers to
meet with small groups or individuals while the rest of the class is busy and
on task.

Some important things we learned about math workshop:

-Make it your own, there is no right or wrong. For us, 5 groups with 6 rotations throughout
the week worked best. For other teachers
4 groups and 4 rotations daily works best.

-Our students LOVED math workshop and were excited about
math.

-As teachers we were more excited to teach math using this
method.

-Our students seemed to perform better and became deeper
thinkers and mathematicians. We had the
chance to review concepts and practice them throughout the year to ensure
success. Concepts were presented and
then practiced in a variety of ways targeting all of our different learners.

-It takes organization to make it work. The more organized and prepared you are, the
more smoothly the week runs.

In the coming weeks, I will dig deeper into math workshop
and give some ideas for what to do during the mini lesson, independent practice
and share portions of workshop. I’ll
also explore some ways to organize math workshop.

I created a document that explains in much more detail how
to set up math workshop in an elementary classroom. It can be found here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Workshop-How-to-Set-Up-Math-Workshop-in-an-Elementary-Classroom-823077

Let me know what questions you have about math workshop so I
can try to answer them in future blog posts.

Happy Teaching,

Sara

I used something similar, but our whole school followed Project CHILD for all subjects which uses a workshop type approach to all subjects. We had stations each day that included a "teacher station" to work with small groups and individuals. Our students weren't organized into groups though. They were "free" (guided mostly) to work at their own pace within reason and were encouraged to move from station to station as they finished an activity. It was really neat to watch how this kids grew from the experience.

ReplyDeleteVery cool. I've never heard of Project CHILD before but it sounds like a great concept.

ReplyDelete