Monday, December 22, 2014

Beginning our Math Workshop Adventure...

Well, the time is here - it's time for me to take the plunge.  I haven't really been dragging my feet - not totally, anyway.  Maybe just a little bit. Okay, I'm NERVOUS about this, people, I'm just plain 'ol nervous.  I'm not new to the workshop model. I have done reader's and writer's workshop for MANY MANY years.  I used the workshop format before it was even called workshop.  So, I'm not really sure why I haven't been teaching math this way.  

But now I am...

Well, at least I'm getting started with it.  Our last day before break was Friday.  My dear friend- couldn't-teach-first-grade-without-her pal, Barb and I met up at my school on Saturday {we sure do know how to kick our feet up and relax on our first day of break - right?} to pound out some of the details.  She's going to dip her toes in the workshop waters too.

I know it has to get really ugly before you see any headway.  It seemed like we spun our wheels a ton, but thanks to that preliminary work, when I got home I was really able to wrap my brain around it.

Chicken Scratches - Before
All Grouped - SmartBoard  - After

Currently, we use Bridges Math.  There are some really great pieces to this program - but....there are A TON of holes.  I've been hemming and hawing over how to fill these holes.  It seems like math workshop/guided math groups are the answer. 

I'm starting out with doing it three times a week and possibly more once I tweak and fine tune.  I'm going to run four "stations":

*WIG {wildly important goal} Work - students will practice their basic math facts a number of different ways. We'll really drive home the strategies we need to become fluent in solving addition and subtraction math problems.  This is something Bridges misses the boat on. They kinda went overboard on the whole "spiral model".  It seems that we are spiraling out of control and never really stick with anything long enough for my kiddos to see/feel success.  

*Workplaces - A large part of Bridges Math is what they call "workplaces" where students play a variety of math games.  Many of the games are great but some are either way too easy for my kids or too complicated for others.  Now I can plan which workplaces my groups will do - BRAVO!

*Work on Math {computers} - There are a whole slew of different web-based math games they can play.

*Guided Math Groups - This is where I'll be able to better differentiate instruction.

Right now, I'm looking through curriculum trying to decide which lessons will make good mini-lessons, which ones I should only teach to certain guided math groups, and which number corner lessons I want to incorporate into this instruction.  Number corner are additional lessons that I have such a hard time fitting into my day - but now that I plan on using them in guided math groups - I'm hoping I'll get to them more often.  So much to do, so little time...

To start, I plan on doing two groups each day - seeing my friends who struggle most all three days in a guided math group.  I'm really looking forward to getting this up and running.  I can only see good things coming from this adventure and can't wait to do a better job at differentiating my instruction!!!

Wish me luck!
Do you do math workshop/guided math?  Any words of wisdom?


  1. Hi there! I am not doing guided math, but I really, really want to! How do you plan to group your kiddos? Are you doing some kind of pre-test/post-test? That is the hardest part for me to get my head around, how do I put them in groups! Great post, maybe I will take the plunge after break!
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

    1. Hi Hilary!
      I used our NWEA {Map Test} data - this is an online standardized test that the students in our district take. It's not fool proof - but it's the best I can do right now. I think once I see them in groups - I may tweak who goes where. If you don't have this sort of assessment at your fingertips - maybe you could do a pre-test before your units?

      Do you have an end of the year grade level test that you give? Maybe you could give that now to see what they have and what they don't have.

      Take the plunge with me!!!!

      Holly :)

  2. This couldn't have come at a better time. I just reworked my plans to allow for some more guided instruction time/learning centers. I knew I wanted to do more leveled reading instruction during this time AND some math. Now, I have a plan. So many days on math, so many on reading. Thanks for the ideas. Best wishes for success! Keep us posted. I love reading your posts. Thank you.

  3. Good for you! My words of wisdom would be these: Don't be afraid to change things up if/ when something isn't working. Know that some days it will go swimmingly and other days it'll sink like the Titanic. Take it slow and be kind to yourself. :) Good luck, you'll do great!

  4. LOVE this and am following word for word! I too am using my break to revamp my first grade room

  5. I'm literally in the middle of starting math group! Did you spend a long time teaching how to do the independent activities? My kids do well with daily 5, they're quiet, focused but go nuts when it's a math activity, maybe because it's more game-like? I'd love some updates on how it goes for you, and any extra words of wisdom!

    1. Hi Hannah!

      Thanks for your interest! My kids are so used to the workshop approach with reader's workshop/Daily 5 and writer's workshop that it was a very smooth transition. Prior to doing math workshop, my kiddos were doing something called "workplaces" which are essentially math centers/gamed based activities - so, again, they were used to working independently on more "actively engaging" activities prior to the start of math workshop...basically, a lot of the pieces were there, it was just a matter of putting them together. I will work on taking some pictures and blogging about our progress just as soon as I can. I do want to note, that this time is definitely more active and loud than Daily 5 which is almost pin-drop quiet. That's just how math is - it's more hands-on and active. As long as my students aren't going bonkers and are engaging in math conversations {math isn't funny - so when they break into a fit of giggles...that's a tell-tale sign that they are losing focus} I'm okay with the higher octave of learning.

      Good luck!!

      Holly :)


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