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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 2M ago

A goal of our mathematics instruction should be to help our students develop flexibility with numbers. For that to happen, children need to experience the meaning of numbers with concrete, hands-on experiences. Three keys to developing flexibility are counting, composing, and changing numbers. The activities I’m sharing today are simple to prep and use materials you probably already have. I always recommend introducing activities such as these during small group instruction before moving them to a workstation.

Counting

Students in Kindergarten may come to you able to recite numbers. There is a difference, however, between counting and reciting numbers. Children need lots of opportunities to connect quantities with numerals. These counting cards (download here) have dots representing each number. Using teddy bear counters or linking cubes to have students count out the number shown on the card reinforces one-to-one correspondence. After the student has counted out the corresponding number of counters, be sure to ask them how many? It is an important developmental step to be able to name the number counted. I like to use just one color of counters for this task so students are not distracted by the color. We’ll get to two colors in just a bit.

Composing

Learning that numbers can be composed in more than one way sets the stage for both flexibility with numbers and automaticity with basic number facts. Knowing that 5 can be composed of 1 and 4, 2 and 3, or even 5 and 0 really is the basis for understanding the relationship between addition and subtraction. By the end of Kindergarten, children should know all the combinations for the numbers up to ten. It’s important for children to work on their own target number. For example, one student might be working on the combinations for 5 while another is working on the combinations for 7. For more information about that, check out this post.

For this task, I’ll describe two options: using the counting cards and teddy bear counters from the last task or using ten-frames and two color counters.  Switch up the two options, so students see multiple representations. To use the cards and teddy bear counters, place two different colors of teddy bears in a bag. The child should not be able to see through the bag, so I use a lunch bag. Have the student draw their target number of counters out of the bag without looking. The total will be their target number, but the two different colors show a way the number can be composed. For example, 2 and 4 make 6. They keep repeating this process, using the same target number, to find different combinations. It’s important for students to verbalize their combinations (e.g., 2 and 4 make 6) and they can also write them down for accountability.

When using ten-frames, I like these two-sided paddles and magnetic counters, but you can download printable ten-frames here. For a great partner activity, have two students who are working on the same target number share a ten frame. One partner uses the red side of the counters and the other partner uses the yellow side. The red partner puts out a number of counters. The yellow partner adds counters to make the target number. Both partners verbalize the combination. In the picture below, you see 4 and 2 make 6. Partners repeat this process to explore different combinations of the target number.

Changing

To use in a workstation, simply provide number cards from 0 to 10. Players start by turning over one card and making the number. As they turn over additional cards, they change their number to the new number.

While these types of activities are designed for Kindergarten, it is helpful to assess 1st and 2nd grade students on these concepts as well. If students in 1st or 2nd grade are struggling with their basic addition facts, activities like these will help fill in those gaps.

I’d love to hear your comments and additional suggestions for developing flexibility with numbers. If you found this post useful, I hope you’ll share it using the social share buttons at the very bottom of the post!

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 6M ago

Math should make sense. It’s a relatively simple statement, yet for many it’s the stuff of dreams. I know that as a child growing up, math certainly did not make sense to me. Math was about memorizing procedures and performing tedious calculations. That was then, but surely it is different now, right? Well…let’s say the Titanic is turning.

First, let’s look at a brief history of mathematics instruction. When I was learning math, computers were giant machines that filled entire rooms (yes, I realize I am dating myself). They were not accessible to the ordinary citizen or business person. It was important to learn how to do calculations, because there was no alternative. But now, I carry a phone on my person at all times that has greater computing capacity than those old room-sized computers had. So why are we still emphasizing the memorization of rote procedures? And what skills will our students need to compete in the global marketplace? The graphic below lists the skills industry leaders valued in 2015, as well as the skills they will be looking for in 2020.

I don’t see memorization on that list, but I do see complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Those are the skills we must develop in our students and, to accomplish that, we have to rethink our mathematics instructional practices. I shared Dan Meyer’s TED Talk,  Giving Math Class a Makeover, with a colleague today. If you have not had a chance to watch it, take a few minutes and do it now.

So how do we help students make sense of math? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Provide students with plenty of concrete and pictorial experiences

You simply can’t rush math understanding. Children need to touch the math they are doing. While 5 – 1 = 4 makes no sense to a 5 year old, show them 5 jellybeans and then eat one, and I guarantee that they will begin to understand the concept of subtraction. Now, a bright 5 year old could certainly memorize 5 – 1 = 4, but that would be the equivalent of memorizing a spelling word, but not knowing what it means or how to use the word in a sentence.

A fraction, such as 3/4, is about as abstract as you can get. I have had many students tell me that 3/4 would be somewhere between 3 and 4 on a number line. That tells me that they haven’t experienced 3/4 and are not able to visualize the meaning of 3/4. Concrete and pictorial experiences aren’t related to age–that is, they are not just for “the little kids”. Those experiences are necessary whenever students are learning a new concept, regardless of age.

2. Connect learning to real life situations

You can make math less abstract by connecting it to real life. Take, for example, the order of operations. We often teach this concept as a set of rules you apply to equations. What meaning does that have to students? Students need to investigate the meaning of the order of operations through the lens of real life situations. Take, for example, this problem and the discussion you might have:

Margo made treat bags for a bake sale. She put 2 chocolate chip cookies and 3 peanut butter cookies in each bag. She made a total of 12 bags. How many cookies were in all the bags?

How would you find the total number of cookies (add 2 + 3 and then multiply by 12)

What happens if you multiply 3 x 12 first and then add 2? (you’d get 38, which is not the correct amount of cookies)

How do we indicate what order to perform the operations? (by using parentheses)

Once students get the hang of it and truly understand why operations must be performed in a certain order, give them the equations and challenge them to write stories to match.

3. Encourage natural curiosity, but don’t force it

A colleague recently told me a story about her 4 year old child and an elevator that really made me think. They had been staying in a hotel for a couple of weeks, so they had been riding the elevator to the 4th floor several times each day. On one trip up, they were on the 2nd floor and her daughter said, We’re on 2, we have two more floors until we get to 4. My friend was kind of stunned, and she said she didn’t really know how to react, other than agreeing with her daughter. I think that was a good thing, because sometimes we get carried away trying to capitalize on teachable moments. The math that child did made total sense to her. She probably just used the buttons on the elevator like a number line and knew it was two jumps from the 2 button to the 4. I doubt she did subtraction or addition in her head. We should certainly encourage a child to think about numbers, but that doesn’t mean teaching full blown lessons. Table Talk Math is a great resource for parents looking to engage their children in authentic mathematical conversations.

So there you have it. Our challenge is to constantly reflect on how we are helping our students make sense of math. I’d love to hear other suggestions in the comments!

The post Making Sense of Math appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 7M ago

“The goal during the first few weeks of Math Workshop is to create a learning culture in which students know and apply routines and procedures and are ready to assume the responsibility for their mathematical learning.” (Sammons/Boucher, p 119)

As we wind down the book study on Guided Math Workshop, I’ll bet you’re full of ideas and ready to go! You can catch up by using the links in the Reading Schedule below. Jump in anytime!

The book study may be finishing up, but the real work is just starting! Please continue to use the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to connect with other educators on Twitter. Laney and I will monitor the hashtag, but feel free to tag us in your tweets to make sure you get our attention. Twitter can be a great source of support, as some of you have found out during the course of the book study, and I hope you’ll connect with other educators on the Guided Math journey!

To join in the slow Twitter chat, type the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in the search box–look for the magnifying class in the top right hand corner by your profile picture (see the picture below). It is not case sensitive, but people often use upper and lower case letters for hashtags to make them easier to read. After you have searched on the hashtag once, it will be listed in your Recent Searches, so you won’t really need to type it again.

Once you are “in” the hashtag, click on Latest (top left hand corner–see picture below) to see all of the tweets, with the most recent listed first.

Scroll through to read what others have posted, reply to others, tweet your thoughts, or even pose your own questions. Remember to include the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in your tweets and replies, or they won’t show up in the feed.

Chapter 6, Implementing Math Workshop
1. What is the best way to teach students workshop routines and procedures?
2. How should I introduce new Math Workstation tasks to students?

It’s time to put all your planning and organizing into practice and launch Math Workshop! I know you’ve got a thousand irons in the fire as you prepare for the start of school, but if you skimp on the implementation plan, it’s likely that you’ll be disappointed with the results of Math Workshop. This chapter explains how to teach your routines, introduce new workstations, and implement Math Workshop over a 15 day period.

You have put significant effort into organizing your room for Math Workshop and developing your routines and procedures. For Math Workshop to be successful, you will need to methodically and deliberately introduce the students to your expectations, routines, and procedures. For each behavioral expectation, you will go through a cycle of describing the routine or procedure, modeling the behavior done correctly and incorrectly, having students role-play the behavior done both correctly and incorrectly, and then providing students with time to practice. You will see this cycle repeat over and over during the 15-day implementation plan.

The 15-day implementation plan is divided into three parts:

Week 1, Establishing Routines and Procedures for Math Workshop

For many students, Guided Math and Math Workshop will be a very different classroom structure than they have previously experienced. The focus of Week 1 is to introduce students to the purpose and format of Math Workshop. What should Math Workshop look and sound like? Even if students have previously used math centers, it is important to communicate that workstation tasks are designed to specifically meet their needs as mathematicians and to help each of them grow. During the first five days, students participate in discussions about Math Workshop, help create anchor charts that will serve as visual reminders of expectations, and practice routines and procedures. One of my favorite lessons for introducing routines and procedures is the true/false quiz on page 141. The sample in the book is designed for grades 3-5, but you could easily adapt it for younger or older students.

Week 2, Math Workstations: The Nuts and Bolts of Math Workshop

During Week 2, you will introduce your students to Math Workstation tasks and they will practice working independently. Using a sample Math Workstation, students will practice storage and retrieval of workstations, using Task Menus and Student Task cards, using Talking Points cards, and working independently.  It’s critical to debrief at the end of each lesson and allow students to self-assess their work habits. The success of Math Workshop hinges on student self-management, and students need to understand that self-assessment is necessary to help them grow as mathematicians.

Week 3, Thinking Like Mathematicians: Focusing on Mathematical Practices

The mathematical process standards outline how students should learn and acquire skills. This week, you will focus on these very important mathematical habits as you continue to practice and reinforce your Math Workshop routines and procedures. Students will engage in mathematical conversations, learn how to make mathematical connections, reason and justify their thinking, and engage in a problem solving process. It is important that students understand that these are skills that they will use in each and every workstation task. It is a critical part of creating a culture of mathematical learning.

In a perfect world, your implementation process would proceed smoothly, with no bumps in the road. As teachers, however, we know that is rarely the case. The suggestions on pages 132 and 133 will be a helpful resource if things don’t go as planned. It’s important to determine if the problems you are experiencing are with only a few students or with the majority of the class and address issues in a positive and respectful manner.

Here are the slow Twitter chat questions I will post this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just search on the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM throughout the week to see the questions, read comments, and add your responses. We will use the Q and A format. For example, to respond to Q10, start your response with A10. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to your tweet and all replies to tweets. If you don’t, it won’t show up in the feed for the chat.

The post Implementing Math Workshop appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 7M ago

“Without effective Math Workstation tasks, successfully implementing Math Workshop is impossible.” (Sammons/Boucher, p 69)

And here we are in August! I’m sure your brain is buzzing with great ideas about how to implement or improve Guided Math Workshop! You can catch up by using the links in the Reading Schedule below. Jump in anytime!

Wow! So much great interaction on the Twitter chat. If you don’t have colleagues in your building who are implementing Guided Math, or coaches in your district or on your campus to assist with implementation, Twitter can be a great source of support and inspiration. Be sure to check it out!

To join in the slow Twitter chat, type the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in the search box–look for the magnifying class in the top right hand corner by your profile picture (see the picture below). It is not case sensitive, but people often use upper and lower case letters for hashtags to make them easier to read. After you have searched on the hashtag once, it will be listed in your Recent Searches, so you won’t really need to type it again.

Once you are “in” the hashtag, click on Latest (top left hand corner–see picture below) to see all of the tweets, with the most recent listed first.

Scroll through to read what others have posted, reply to others, tweet your thoughts, or even pose your own questions. Remember to include the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in your tweets and replies, or they won’t show up in the feed.

1. What kinds of tasks are best for Math Workstations?
2. How can I differentiate workstation tasks for my students?
3. In what ways can I hold students accountable for their independent work on a Math Workstation task?

Let’s first look at the types of tasks included in this collection. Using a structure such as GUIDE helps ensure that the tasks feature a good balance of skill practice, fact fluency practice, problem solving, and communication. To me, that’s a huge plus for using the GUIDE structure–you make sure you’re covering all your mathematical bases, so to speak. You also want to look for a balance between structured tasks and more open-ended, creative tasks.

So what do you look for when choosing tasks? Here are a few of my thoughts:

Tasks that can be reused. You would expect games to fall into that category, but look for independent activities that can be reused as well. Look, for example, at Piggy Bank Problems on page 91. Students draw 5 cards showing coin amounts and then find the value of the collection of coins. Great practice for an important skill. Contrast the mileage you can get out of the Piggy Bank task with a worksheet addressing the same skill, which would basically be one-and-done. Tasks that use random number generators, such as cards, dice, or dominoes, increase re-usability.

Tasks that can be easily extended. Look next at This Reminds Me Of… on page 112. We’ve including nine different mathematical models (pages 222 and 223) to use with this task, but you could easily extend the life of the task by finding additional pictures of models from your textbook or old tests.

Materials that can pull double duty. I love tasks that include cards, like Area and Perimeter War on page 76. I can think of lots of uses for those cards! For example: Choose a card. On graph paper, create another figure with the same area (or perimeter) as the figure on the card. Or, how about: Choose a card. Decompose the figure into 2 or more rectangles. Find the area of each smaller rectangle. Combine the areas of the smaller rectangles to find the area of the figure.

What about differentiation? Each of the tasks in the book includes suggestions for both above- and below-level learners. For below-level learners, it’s important to think about the supports they will need to be successful with the task. They might need additional materials–manipulatives, reference charts, etc.– or you might use smaller numbers or simpler versions of a task. Remember that above-level learners don’t just need more of the same thing. Spend a few minutes looking at just the differentiation notes for each task in the book and think about how you might use some of the ideas from the examples to differentiate tasks you are currently using.

Now would be a good time to look through some of your existing resources and determine what adjustments you might need to make to use them as workstation tasks. As you plan to kick off Guided Math at the beginning of the school year, use the teachers from the previous grade level as a resource. Using workstation tasks your students are familiar with from last year is a great way to review important skills while you teach the expectations for Math Workshop.

Here are the slow Twitter chat questions I will post this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just search on the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM throughout the week to see the questions, read comments, and add your responses. We will use the Q and A format. For example, to respond to Q10, start your response with A10. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to your tweet and all replies to tweets. If you don’t, it won’t show up in the feed for the chat.

The post Math Workstation Tasks appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 8M ago

The standards, whether the CCSSM or the TEKS in Texas, definitively state that students should develop fluency with calculations, and that means automaticity with basic facts. Knowing math facts is similar to knowing sight words–it frees up the mind to solve real math problems.  If a child has to struggle to solve 8 + 3, they have no mental energy (or desire) left to grapple with the types of problems that will increase their capacity as a mathematician. The difference is the approach we now take to teaching basic facts. Traditionally, the emphasis has been on memorization and speed, much to the detriment of countless students. For a great read on the problems with memorization, check out Jo Boaler‘s Fluency Without Fear.

So the shift has been away from rote memorization of math facts and toward a strategy-based approach for learning math facts.  There’s a big difference between memorizing and understanding. Sure, we want kiddos to have automaticity with their facts, but we want that fluency to be rooted in number sense–an understanding of how numbers are related.  A great resource for strategy-based fact instruction is Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Addition and Subtraction: Strategies, Activities, and Interventions to Move Students Beyond Memorization. There’s one for multiplication and division facts, too.

To develop automaticity, students also need to engage in meaningful practice. Here are some suggestions for practice games and activities:

1. Provide concrete or pictorial support. The ability to create mental images of numbers and facts helps students make sense of numbers. A student who “guesses” that 7 x 9 might be a number in the 30s clearly does not have a mental image of 7 x 9. Tasks that either use pictures to represent facts or have students draw representations for facts help them develop that ability to form mental images.
2. Focus on strategies, not facts. When learning addition facts, strategies like Make a 10 and Using Doubles are very powerful. With multiplication, students learn that facts are related, for example by doubling. A game focusing on the 2s, 4s, and 8s highlights that doubling relationship.
3. Spotlight a specific number. In Kinder and 1st, students need lots of practice composing and decomposing the numbers to ten. Because of it’s importance in our number system, special emphasis should be given to making ten. Use a fun skip-counting game to practice all the multiples of a given factor.
4. Add a twist of strategy. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a game of tic-tac-toe? The strategy that’s involved makes it almost addictive. Anytime you can incorporate a little strategy into a fact practice game, you’re golden. And speaking of tic-tac-toe, I’ve created a little freebie for Making 10 (addition) and Making 24 (multiplication). Click here to grab yours!

The post Developing Automaticity with Basic Math Facts appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 8M ago

“…workstations are most successful when teachers give careful attention to the composition of their student groups, the mathematics content of the workstation tasks, and the types of math tasks students are expected to complete.” (Sammons/Boucher, p 59)

So far in our book study of Guided Math Workshop we’ve been planning the menu and setting the table. This week, we get into the meat and potatoes! You can catch up by using the links in the Reading Schedule below. Jump in anytime!

Wow! So much great interaction on the Twitter chat. If you don’t have colleagues in your building who are implementing Guided Math, or coaches in your district or on your campus to assist with implementation, Twitter can be a great source of support and inspiration. Be sure to check it out!

To join in the slow Twitter chat, type the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in the search box–look for the magnifying class in the top right hand corner by your profile picture (see the picture below). It is not case sensitive, but people often use upper and lower case letters for hashtags to make them easier to read. After you have searched on the hashtag once, it will be listed in your Recent Searches, so you won’t really need to type it again.

Once you are “in” the hashtag, click on Latest (top left hand corner–see picture below) to see all of the tweets, with the most recent listed first.

Scroll through to read what others have posted, reply to others, tweet your thoughts, or even pose your own questions. Remember to include the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in your tweets and replies, or they won’t show up in the feed.

Chapter 4, Planning Math Workstations
1. How should I group students during Math Workshop?
2. What kinds of tasks should I include in Math Workstations?
3. How can I incorporate the use of digital devices into Math Workshop?

After reading and studying the first three chapters, do you have a strong vision about how Math Workshop will look in your classroom? Have you jotted notes, made lists, and talked to colleagues? I can’t overemphasize the importance of planing as you get started. In a chapter aptly titled Random or Plandom? in the bestselling book What Great Teachers Do Differently, Todd Whitaker says this:

“One hallmark of great teachers is that in their classroom, very little happens at random. Great teachers have a plan and purpose for everything they do. If things don’t work out the way they had envisioned, they reflect on what they could have done differently and adjust their plans accordingly.”

First, let’s talk about student grouping, a task that requires a great deal of thought and planning. Part of my teaching philosophy is that all students should have the ability to work in mixed ability groups. I would not feel comfortable using a structure that did not allow that to happen on a regular basis. That said, I also strongly believe that students need targeted instruction at their own level. In other words, I need a structure that allows for both heterogeneous (mixed) groups and homogeneous (same level) groups. That is one reason why the GUIDE structure is the best one for me. Each day during Math Workshop, students work at one of five workstations (G, U, I, D,  or E) in heterogeneous groups. I have the flexibility to pull small, targeted homogeneous groups from whichever workstation students happen to be in. So I might call one student from the G workstation, another from I, two from E, and so forth. After my small group lesson, students go back to their workstation and pick up where they left off. With GUIDE, I’m not locked in to a certain amount of time to work with each small group, as I found I was using a rotation model. Some groups may only need 5-10 minutes while others need extended time. Since students are flowing in and out of Workstations, the teacher has total flexibility.

Figure 4.1 on page 60 is a great resource for the Dos and Don’ts of forming workstation groups. You need to carefully consider and balance ability levels, work habits, talkative students vs. quiet ones, personalities, and student relationships. As an Instructional Coach, I saw teachers who sabotaged their own best efforts by not being strategic about forming groups. Plan to change your groups every month, but don’t hesitate to tweak the groups if the composition is not quite right. Remember, these are your Workstation groups, not the groups you are pulling for small group instruction. Your small group instruction groups will constantly change based on student need.

Because there are now so many resources readily available, it’s your responsibility to properly vet the available resources to determine which ones will provide quality mathematical experiences for your students. I summarized the details from the book into a visual you can use as a guideline for choosing tasks. Download a copy and hang it in your planning room or tape it in your planning book!

Finally, Math Workshop is a wonderful way to put your digital devices to good use. In the math classroom, digital devices are most often used to provide practice in an engaging format. There are a large number of free or nearly free apps available. We need to think beyond the practice apps, however, to truly exploit the power of of digital devices. The audio and video capabilities allow devices to be used to support non-readers in workstations or for students to record their mathematical conversations. Students can write and publish math-related posts for a class blog or can use web tools to create products showcasing their mathematical thinking. The camera feature can be used to snap pictures of math in the real world or to document the results of a workstation game before the laminated board is erased. Think outside the box and be sure to share your ideas by commenting on this post or tweeting!

Here are the slow Twitter chat questions I will post this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just search on the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM throughout the week to see the questions, read comments, and add your responses. We will use the Q and A format. For example, to respond to Q10, start your response with A10. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to your tweet and all replies to tweets. If you don’t, it won’t show up in the feed for the chat.

The post Planning Math Workstations appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 8M ago

“Effective management practices springboard student learning and allow teachers to extend their mathematics instruction in a myriad of ways…” (Sammons/Boucher, p 49)

This week in our book study of Guided Math Workshop, we will be discussing considerations for the management of Guided Math Workshop. So important! You can catch up by using the links in the Reading Schedule below. Jump in anytime!

Lots of useful conversations this week as part of the Twitter chat. Even some great pictures shared! If you are new to Twitter and need some information about how to use it, check out this handbook for educators.

To join in the slow Twitter chat, type the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in the search box–look for the magnifying class in the top right hand corner by your profile picture (see the picture below). It is not case sensitive, but people often use upper and lower case letters for hashtags to make them easier to read. After you have searched on the hashtag once, it will be listed in your Recent Searches, so you won’t really need to type it again.

Once you are “in” the hashtag, click on Latest (top left hand corner–see picture below) to see all of the tweets, with the most recent listed first.

Scroll through to read what others have posted, reply to others, tweet your thoughts, or even pose your own questions. Remember to include the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in your tweets and replies, or they won’t show up in the feed.

Chapter 3, Managing Workshop
1. What should I take into consideration as I develop routines and procedures for students working independently in Math Workshop?
2. How will I hold students accountable for their independent word during Math Workshop?

Probably the biggest shift when moving to a Guided Math structure is the amount of time students work independently. For Math Workshop to be effective, students must have the mindset that the workstations are their “work” as mathematicians and they are expected to do their very best. Will it always be perfect? No! But you must have processes in place to hold students accountable for their work, or Math Workshop is likely to more closely resemble playtime than workshop. The first step to accountability is developing a learning community in your classroom. Students need to see themselves as mathematicians. At CAMT this summer, a teacher from Duncanville ISD shared a Mathematician’s Pledge she uses with her kiddos that is based on the oath used in Taekwondo. It goes like this:

I am a mathematician.
I look for patterns in the world around me.
I work hard.
I never give up.
I will continue to learn and grow.

Having a self-reflection component to Math Workshop emphasizes the link between work behavior and learning and helps students develop the skills needed to be self-directed learners. Just knowing that they will be asked to reflect on their work habits makes students more keenly aware of the expectations and their behavior.

While pencil and paper tasks offer built-in accountability, it’s easy to hold students accountable for a wide variety of workstation tasks. Use simple recording sheets for games, or have students record work in math journals. Digital devices can be used to snap pictures of the work done in workstations. It’s my goal this year to investigate Seesaw, which is a tool for developing digital portfolios. When reviewing student work, it’s important to address mistakes, misconceptions, and work output immediately.

Here are the slow Twitter chat questions I will post this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just search on the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM throughout the week to see the questions, read comments, and add your responses. We will use the Q and A format. For example, to respond to Q1, start your response with A1. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to your tweet and all replies to tweets. If you don’t, it won’t show up in the feed for the chat.

The post Managing Guided Math Workshop appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 8M ago

“The organization of Math Workshop can make or break a classroom.” (Sammons/Boucher, p 35)

Welcome back to our online book study of Guided Math Workshop. If you are joining in for the first time, I suggest you use the links in the Reading Schedule below to catch up. Because of the nature of this book study, you can really jump in anytime!

Wow! the Twitter chat was very active this week. So many great conversations and ideas shared. If you are new to Twitter and need some information about how to use it, check out this handbook for educators. I also thought I’d share some tips for participating.

To see what’s been tweeted, type the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in the search box–look for the magnifying class in the top right hand corner by your profile picture (see the picture below). It is not case sensitive, but people often use upper and lower case letters for hashtags to make them easier to read. After you have searched on the hashtag once, it will be listed in your Recent Searches, so you won’t really need to type it again.

Once you are “in” the hashtag, click on Latest (top left hand corner–see picture below) to see all of the tweets, with the most recent listed first.

You can “lurk” and just read what others have posted, reply to others, tweet your thoughts, or even pose your own questions. Remember to include the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in your tweets and replies, or they won’t show up in the feed. Kind of like the search function, once you use the hashtag, it will automatically show up in your list of used hashtags, and you won’t have to type the whole thing in each time.

Be sure to follow others who are participating in the chat to grow your Personal Learning Network (PLN). And remember, although I am posting guiding questions for the chat, feel free to start your own conversation. If you have a question about Math Workshop, tweet it out using the hashtag. You’re likely to get some great feedback, because that’s the power of Twitter!

Chapter 2, Organizing Math Workshop
1. How can I arrange my classroom to effectively accommodate Math Workstations?
2. What should I include in my Math Workstations?

Now that you have decided on the structure you will use for Math Workshop (rotations, GUIDE, etc.), it’s time to think about how you will organize your room. Your first consideration is how you will arrange your classroom. Of course we all have different sizes and shapes of classrooms, and you have to work within your constraints. But teachers are incredibly resourceful, right? So look at your room as a blank canvas.

I think of my small-group instruction area as the hub. From there, I want to be able to take in the whole room, but I also want as few distractions as possible. My seat is always facing out into the room, while the students at my small-group table have their backs to the room. Take into consideration noise level as you decide where each group will work. You might want to position the groups with the greatest potential for noise (games?) farthest away from the small-group instruction table. If students will need to access a storage area to retrieve materials for workstations, position that storage area away from your small-group table as well. Speaking of materials, I like to have a bookshelf right behind my small-group table to store the materials I will need for my lessons. Everything at my fingertips!

As resourceful as we are, teachers can also be pack rats. Am I right? At the end of this past year, I did a major purge using the SPACE process described on pages 38 & 39. It was time well spent, and the materials that I kept are organized and easily accessible. As you set up your room for Math Workshop, consider what you need, how often you need it, and how best to organize and store your materials.

Ah, containers. I am always in search of the best way to organize and store my materials. I should own stock in Sterilite! For workstation boxes, I love their clip boxes (shown below). They are easy to stack, you can see the contents inside, and they can hold 8 1/2 x 11 sheets without folding or bending.

I roam the aisles at Walmart during back-to-school to find the perfect sized container for each and every manipulative. Over the last couple of years, I have started using my trusty label maker to label the contents of my boxes. BTW, I also use the label maker for labeling file folders and the divider tabs for my binders. Magical!

Finally, how will you actually organize the workstation boxes your students will use? Because the students are working independent of you, you need to make sure they have everything they need to be successful with the workstation tasks. Depending on the structure you are using, each workstation might have one or more tasks. Workstation boxes should be clearly labeled so students are able to quickly retrieve the correct container. A Task Menu within the workstation container can communicate to students which tasks they “must do” and which they “may do”. Student instruction cards can provide students with the guidance they need to complete tasks independently. And finally, consider including Talking Points cards to facilitate mathematical discourse. The cards should contain relevant vocabulary words that students should be using in their conversations, as well as sentence stems to help students frame their thoughts.

The post Organizing Guided Math Workshop appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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Math Coach's Corner by Donna Boucher - 9M ago

“Because of its instructional value to both students and teachers, Math Workshop is an essential component of a Guided Math classroom.” (Sammons/Boucher, p 11)

I’m so excited to kick off another series of Book Study Mondays! Be sure to check out all the comments on the announcement post to read what your colleagues are hoping to gain from this book study and to learn more about getting started with Twitter. It was super exciting to hear from so many middle school/junior high teachers who are hoping to get Guided Math going in their classrooms. My apologies to those of you who have had a hard time getting your hands on the book, but it is back in stock at Teacher Created Materials. Even if you don’t have your book in hand yet, the format of the book study makes it easy to jump in at any time.

So let’s get going!

If you have participated in Twitter chats, you know they are typically regularly scheduled events, taking place once a week on a certain day and time. Depending on the chat, they can move pretty quickly! I participate regularly in #elemmathchat on Thursday nights at 8:00 CST. Twitter chats are a wonderful way to collaborate with other educators and become part of an online professional learning network (PLN).

A relatively new twist on the Twitter chat is the slow chat. Rather than having a scheduled time to show up and chat, questions are posted throughout the week and participants respond at their leisure. It’s a much more relaxed way to participate in a chat. For our slow Twitter chat, we will use the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM. I plan on posting questions each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout the book study, however you can respond to the questions at any time. Search on the hashtag to read the questions that have been posted and add your comments. We will use the standard Q & A format–questions will be tagged Q (Q1, Q2, etc.) and you tag your response with an A (A1, A2, etc.). Don’t forget to tag your response with #GMWorkshopTCM so it will show up in the search. You can also use the hashtag to share what you’re doing in your classroom related to Guided Math. That’s how the PLN grows! It’s one-stop professional development, and you are now part of a learning community.

Introduction

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I skip a book’s Introduction, because I want to jump right in! If you have not previously read Laney’s original Guided Math book, then you most definitely don’t want to skip the introduction. Even if you have read the original book, the Introduction provides a great reminder of the Guided Math framework and the importance of Math Workshop within the framework.

One big take-away here is that Math Workshop is just one of the seven components of Guided Math, albeit a critical one. This book does not, for example, explain what and how you teach in your small group lessons–it focuses on the Math Workshop component. Math Workshop is the work students are doing independently–in pairs, individually, or in cooperative groups–which allows the teacher to pull and instruct in small groups. What you will find in this book is everything you need to plan, organize, implement, and manage a successful Math Workshop.

And finally, as we get started, we should probably ask ourselves why are we even headed down this path? Why do we want to implement Math Workshop? With instructional time being so precious, we can’t squander it on fads and whims. The rationale for Math Workshop laid out on pages 15-17 should guide our implementation process. For example, if we want to promote student independence and self-reliance, how are we planning for and teaching that? It sure doesn’t just happen! Honestly, that is why a whole book is required for Math Workshop–if not implemented properly, it can seem chaotic, overwhelming, and frustrating to both students and teacher. The thought and preparation that goes toward planning, implementing, and managing Math Workshop is what pays off in student success.

On pages 18 and 19 of the Introduction, guiding questions are included for each of the chapters in the book. I’ll be using those questions as we discuss each chapter

Chapter 1, Structuring Math Workshop
1. What Math Workshop model will work best for me?
2. How can I create a management board to help students identify where they will work during Math Workshop?

The GUIDE model features five workstations, each with a different focus. Students visit only one workstation each day, so each workstation must include enough tasks to keep students engaged. As with the menu model I previously used, some tasks might be mandatory, while others are optional. Tasks don’t need to be changed each week, which makes your life a little easier. I like that groups are heterogeneous and that the teacher just pulls the students she needs for small group instruction. Also, if you need to skip a Math Workshop day, the rotation just rolls over to the next day.

I realize I might be showing a little bias for the GUIDE model, but the beauty of Guided Math is that you can use the model that feels right for you! The table on page 32 is great for comparing the different models.

Once you decide on the model you will use, you need to think of how you will communicate the structure to your students. What type of management board will you use? To maximize your instructional time, it’s important that students know quickly exactly what they are doing once Math Workshop starts. You have lots of options for management boards–just make it each for both you and the students.

Here are the slow Twitter chat questions I will post this week. Just search on the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM throughout the week to see the questions, read comments, and add your responses. We will use the Q and A format. For example, to respond to Q1, start your response with A1. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to your tweet. Also, be sure to follow other participants to grow your PLN!

Can’t wait for the conversations from this chapter!

The post Structuring Guided Math Workshop appeared first on Math Coach's Corner.

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