Then this past summer I read the Debbie Diller's book about Math Workstations. Even though there were many ideas I was already doing I did get a chance to reevaluate my organization.
I've decided to upload a few pictures of how we do things in my room. I switched a bit this year and have kind of merged my own version with the suggestions in both of these books. I find it works best for my students and our math curriculum.
First off I have the students grouped by their NWEA RIT bands. According to MAP I have a wide range of abilities. My math groups are not usually flexible, but at times I may move a child into a group if a topic seems to easy or too challenging.
My students rotate through three areas; seat, center, and the math table. The child at the seat is the symbol for work at your desk. Students do a worksheet or activity at their seat that parallels the mini lesson. I begin each math block with a 15-20 minute mini lesson. The numbered card is the symbol for the math bucket that students will work with. The teacher icon signals students are to come to the table for math group. Each station lasts around 12 minutes. I end the math block by checking the classwork and reviewing anything I noticed needed addressing while working at the table. You can see that Evan will begin at his desk, rotate to bucket 1, and then end my table. Students rotate when I ding a bell at my desk. The tempo is quick but students are good now at using their time wisely. Children with lower abilities will start EVERY DAY at my table. I can provide them the support they will need to then rotate to their seats. My highest math students often begin at their desk because they need the least amount of support with their classwork.
My math buckets have matching numbers on the inside. They are stored on a rolling cart for easy access. They are large enough to fit most math manipulatives and easily fit games, too.
I've used a lot of games off of Pinterest for my math buckets. I also put investigation sheets and such for students to practice using manipulatives. This is a game that I posted earlier this week called Splish Splash Shapes.
One thing that I do that the kids enjoy is a 'Problem of the Day .' The students solve the problem on a note card and drop their answers into a basket. They have all day to solve the problem. At the end of the day during our dismissal time I will solve the problem whole group. I will pull one winner from the basket and that person gets to dig in the treasure box. It's a very competitive atmosphere! It's also a great way to constantly practice word problems.
My math manipulatives are stored in Gladware containers. I bought some off brand kinds at the Dollar Tree that were three for a dollar. They hold blocks, dice, gram weights, tangrams, etc. They are great for stacking and perfect for most small manipulatives.
My bigger manipulatives are stored in this shelving unit I found at a yard sale. I'm pretty sure you can buy them at K-Mart. The kids can access these things easily and will use them at their seat independently if they finish with their classwork before I ding the bell.
I love teaching guided math. It's not a requirement at my school so I have a lot of freedom. I don't have to do any fancy lesson plans * sigh of relief.* The last thing I will share with you is some of the math mats I use while working at my table. These are great for review, enrichment, or for math warm ups. I put them into page protects and pull them out for easy use. The students can sometimes use counters or beans with them and others mats require them to write with a dry erase marker. It's easier than using a white board because students thoughts are all organized the same way. We progress to a whiteboard after they become accustomed to a certain type of math format. Click the picture below to check out these math mats at TpT. There are 16 different mats and a few extra pages with explicit demonstrations showing how to best use the mat.
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