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Math Workshop

I've gotten a few questions about the way I run math over the past few months, so I think it's time for a post to explain it! I have taught math in workshop format for the last couple years. I have really had a lot of success with the format. I love the fact that I talk to every kid, every day about their learning. I get some verbal assessment time to check and see what they know, and they get to prove that they "got it" after each lesson. The kids love it, too, because they get to play a game every day! I think the most important thing to do before you get going is to get organized- especially with older kids. If you know, down to the minute, what kids should be doing they are far more likely to do it.

I have 90 minutes for math each day, give or take 5 - 10 minutes for transitions. That sounds like a lot of time for transitions, I know, but we have departmentalized this year for the first time. The kiddos are still getting used to it! Here is the breakdown of my time block:

10 minutes - "do now"
20 minutes- whole class lesson
40 minutes- groups
10 minutes - debrief

To keep track of the madness of the workshop, I have a bulletin board dedicated to running of math workshop.

The left side of the bulletin board tells each group the order of the stations that they will attend. My groups are named after owls, because that's my theme. :) So, the barn owls go to me first, independent practice next, then the math game, then end it with "teacher's choice."  On the right, I have a pocket chart with the name of each station. In the pocket chart each day, I place a description of what the students are doing at each station. This board is much of the reason the workshop runs well! The kids aren't constantly bugging me for directions again (and again), and the plans for the math period are clearly laid out.

Do Now
I begin each class with a standard, predictable "do now" activity. When I begin every math class, the kids are just completing some sort of hallway transition and need an activity to help them get down to business. Our "do now" activity is a group problem solving activity based upon the lesson we are about to learn. They are assigned to work in mixed ability groups with people that sit near them (I call them "neighborhoods"). They are given a problem that they have not yet been taught how to solve, and they work together to see if they can solve it. At the end of the activity, I randomly call on 2 groups to share their answers. I let them give their answer as well as an explanation of how they got there, but I never tell them if they are right or wrong. At the end of the lesson, we touch back in on it. 

Whole Class Lesson
This is the "traditional" teaching part of my lesson. I teach the concept to the whole class. We review vocabulary, touch on our prior learnings, and then get direct instruction time. If we are running short on time because of delayed transitions, this is the section I cut some time from. We do one or two problems together in the whole class lesson as well, but we do not do any true assigned work. 

This is my favorite part of the entire class. The kids are broken up into leveled groups- of course, they do not know they are leveled! The groups change for each topic based upon the students ability within that topic. There are four stations, as well, so every group is always at a station. The stations are:
Teacher Choice- this station changes daily. It could be targeted intervention, math fact review, open response style journal writing, or if they are especially well behaved, another game. 
Independent Practice- assigned practice to work on independently. This is their chance to "prove" their knowledge!
With the Teacher- This is targeted reteaching. The kids get instruction from me that fits their need. The lower ability students receive direct, explicit instruction, the mid range students receive reteaching to varying degrees, and the higher students have a quick reteaching, followed by enrichment. The great thing about the small groups is that I have the ability to stop and break it down for one or two students. I've had days that the higher ability group is struggling, and I have had to back it up and give them direct instruction. Other days, I have found that my mid range group needs tons of enrichment because it just "clicked." I have hte freedom to talk to the students about their learning and see where they truly are at. I can meet their needs- no matter what they are. 
Math Game- Here, they play the math game related to the topic we are playing. Honestly, this is their favorite part. They love the fact that they get to play games! Little do they know, I'm a sneaky teacher, and they are actually learning and talking about what they learned. Ha. :)

Here, we talk again about the "do now" activity. I give them the correct answer, and ask them to correct their process if they did not get it correct the first time. We also talk about what we learned and what the important take-aways are. If we have extra time, we do a sneak peek of tomorrow's lesson.

So, there it is. I'll be honest- it's not without it's problems. Sometimes I have to move kids to groups they do not belong in because of behaviors. It take a lot (and I mean A LOT) of training to get kids into the rhythm of the workshop. I have a few helpers that take out and put away the stations, which is a huge help. I also have found that the chatty kids WILL chat- no matter where you put them! I try to contain the off topic behavior as much as possible, but I also have to let some go- which is not in my nature. :)

Linking up with Jivey for the very first time for Workshop Wednesdays!

Winner & an exit slip idea

And the winner of the pencil sharpener giveaway is.....

(drumroll please....)

Jennifer N

WOO! Congrats, Jennifer!

So, I've been on the hunt forever for a good "exit slip" type activity for my students. There are a bazillion out there, I know, but I wanted to find that perfect fit for my students. They are techno-addicts, and really enjoy something different. Finally it hit me- let's tweet!

We don't have any electronics in the classroom, or wifi for that matter, we had to get creative. I got myself some fluorescent poster board, tons of stickies, and got to work. I have the "twitter feed" posted on the whiteboard at the front of my classroom. We use @FirstName as our twitter handle. I even tweet as @MrsB sometimes!

At the end an activity, I will give students a quick prompt to respond to. Early in the year, it's mostly "how do you feel about this" type questions, but as we progress in our learning we will dive in deeper questions. This prompt asked students to tweet about how they felt about the reading they did in class today.

Kids can tweet during the day, too. They get one "on topic, no prompt" tweet per day. I get things like this posted from these:

I love that they use hashtags! :) 

Don't forget to enter the giveaway

A quick reminder to enter the Classroom Friendly Supplies giveaway I am hosting! :)

Meanwhile, I've been working on a post about my the way I run math workshop in my classroom. Unfortunately, I've been overrun by spelling tests, math quizzes, reading benchmarks, and sentence type packets. Boo! Typical Sunday night... remember when I said it was my goal this year to save Sundays for me? So far- not so good! Ha. So- look for my math workshop post tomorrow. :)

Another great pencil sharpener giveaway!

I know I've told you all before, but seriously, I love the amazingly quiet pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies. It's solved some serious problems in my classroom. We're talking disruptive students sharpening pencils just for fun, not having enough sharpened pencils to keep my kiddos working, and having to do all the pencil sharpening myself. This sharpener is quiet and fun to use, so the kids want to use it! In fact, I've made "pencil sharpener" one of our class jobs because they all wanted to use the sharpener so much. Check out how sharp they made my pencils...

You can read my full review from May here.

So, what are waiting for? Enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To do lists

I love a good list. I make lists about everything- groceries we need to buy, lessons I want to try, craft projects to take on, and even lists of lists I want to create. It's kind of a sickness. The only problem is keeping track of all those lists! I am always leaving one behind or losing it in my mound of paperwork. I needed a better way... a seriously better way. Enter Wunderlist.

Wunderlist is a web and mobile app that allows you to create multiple to do lists. You can organize them by priority, deadline, or alphabetically. For me, it's the best because I can combine my home, financial, shopping, school, and volunteer to-dos in one place!

You can see the different categories I chose to add. I have all my bills and their due dates (set to repeat monthly), house maintenance, personal tasks, study (for all those PDPs and grad credits), travel, shopping,and work. My work one is always the longest- but it is always the one that helps me the most!

You can set Wunderlist to remind you about the task, or you can choose to check in on your own.

I'm totally hooked on Wunderlist... check it out!

Radio Silence

Knock, knock... anyone still out there? It's been a long time since my last post! I've been busy with a few things. Turning my classroom from this...

to this...

to this...

to this...

Still a work in progress, but I am loving the bright colors!

I spent some time hanging out on a boat in the Atlantic off of Key West...

Then some more time snorkeling in coral reefs.

I celebrated a birthday by seeings Cats and drinking blueberry martinis...

And my husband proved he understands me well with his birthday gift to me!

All in all, August was pretty wonderful.

Did you guys notice my new theme? I am totally loving what Dreamlike Magic made for me! :) It totally suits me. 

Be back soon... with a giveaway!

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