Workshop Wednesday: Math Workshop - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Workshop Wednesday: Math Workshop

Happy Wednesday! I hope you have had a great week so far! Let me tell you, even though we had a long weekend, I am not totally rested and relaxed. I feel very behind!

Remember, since everyone's start dates are so different, the topic for August AND September will be Getting Workshop Started in the Classroom. Please write about only one workshop in your post so that you can link it up accordingly below, and then please come back each week to share! (In other words, if you use Reading, Writing, and Math Workshop and you want to share about all three, please link up in three different weeks-or more if you'd like!!)

Because of my total overwhelmedness (yes, I just made that word up), I am going to re-share a post that I first posted back in January. Since most of you weren't with me back then, maybe this will be "new" to you!

I've been using a Guided Math model for a couple of years now. (If you're unfamiliar with this, imagine what Guided Reading looks like and now think math- groups are still pulled, but it's based on their understanding of that math skill. Students are working on other math "things" while you are working with groups- and groups can change frequently, based on how they progress on the skill...) This year, I borrowed some ideas from a few different teachers to try something new in my Math Workshop.

I start with a mini-lesson each day. Then, the kids move to stations or group with me. I have four "stations" that the students may choose to visit each day- they should complete all four stations over the course of 5-7 days. Sometimes, the groups go longer than other days, so even though there are only four stations, it still takes them more than four days to complete them. The 4 stations are always: Skill Practice (practice with whatever we are currently working on), Skill Review (practice of a skill from a previous week), Math Literature (some type of reading activity about math, or a math "story" - there are always questions for them to answer... an example I created would be "Lemonade For Sale" - get it free by clicking on the link), and Games (varies from week to week depending on the skill we are learning... sometimes it's a card game, sometimes uses dice, or recently we've been playing Witzzle Pro to practice order of operations).

I differentiate the Skill Practice and Skill Review. For my sanity (and the type of class I have), I only differentiate the work two ways: low students and medium/high students. I don't have any super high-flyers in my class this year, so I only have two types of activities to come up with for each station... some teachers do three, though- low/medium/high. I put up a chart and list my students in two groups: Green Group and Orange Group. I don't make either group be my "low" every time so they don't associate the color with their level. The ONLY reason I even use colors is so they know which folder to pull from... I put all of the work for "Green Group" into a two pocket folder, and the same for "Orange Group." This ensures they are doing the right activity. Green and Orange Groups change every time I set up new "stations" because some kids aren't struggling in all areas in math.
*This year, I have the awesome 10-drawer cart I'm using instead, which I shared about here, so instead of folders, they have blue and green drawers for Math. :)

So, I know the next questions already- how do I form my Green and Orange Groups, and how do I form my small groups? Great questions! I'll tell you! There is no right or wrong way really- I do it differently every time. Sometimes, I give a quick pre-test of what we are about to learn. Sometimes, I pull groups based on how they've done on a quiz to reteach the material. And sometimes, I pull just based on what I'm seeing from them in the classroom during my mini-lessons. A way to keep track with who I've pulled or who needs to be pulled for what skill is a check sheet I created. You can click on the picture below to download the one I used for my Fractions Units.
If the students are proficient at the skill (written across the top), I write the date I saw them successful at that skill. For example, the groups I'm pulling now are based on a quiz we just took. If they answered the questions for that skill correctly on the quiz, I put the date of the quiz in next to their name for that skill. If they got them wrong, I left it blank. Then, I pulled a group with all the students who had a blank under that skill (or two groups if it's not a "small group"). If by the end of that group I felt they "got it," then I put that date in the box. If they didn't get it, I put a check. This lets me know I did pull them, but they still need work. This is great for RTI purposes too, later- you can show them the chart with all the checks and no dates! (Look at how many times I pulled them to work with them, and they still aren't getting it!)

I can already anticipate your NEXT question!! How do you know the other kids are really doing what they are supposed to be doing? Well, for one, you can't just START Math Workshop pulling groups and telling them to work. Just like Reader's Workshop, you have to train them. But once you feel good about letting them go on their own, you still want to make sure you are holding them accountable. This is one of the ideas I borrowed from a fellow teacher- my students fill in an accountability report at the end of Math Workshop each day. They tell me what they did, and how they feel they did. As they do this, I come around and take a peek at what they worked on and what they are writing about it. Sometimes I have a mini-conversation with them, sometimes I just look. Either way, they never know when I'm going to ask them about it, so they are always honest. Here is one of my "middle of the road" kids:

As you can see, my Skill Review is going WAY back to place value and forming numbers, juuuuust to make sure they remember how to do it! And you can see, she is totally honest with how she felt she was doing while working with me in groups on multiplying fractions by whole numbers... (you remember in my last post, I said I wasn't going to talk about my frustrations in math that day... HA! Clearly, she was frustrated too!!)

Want the Accountability Report? Click on the picture below!
Did you make it this far? Hooray!!! I hope that this long-winded post will help you with your Math Workshop!!

Now it's your turn to link up! Don't forget to check out some of the link-ups from the last couple of weeks, too, because there are some really great ideas being shared! :o)


  1. Nice post! Great descriptions of how you run the whole math workshop. You could even add it to my MaTh activity Thursday link tomorrow if you want. : ) Thanks again for all the great ideas!

    Kids Math Teacher

  2. Thanks for all the great ideas - we are still in the assessing stage so I appreciate all your helpful tips for the next week :)

  3. If I ever go back to teaching math, I would love to use this model of teaching it. I really like the accountability report.

    Thank you!

    Fit to be Fourth
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  4. I do four stations as well. I was trying to figure out the accountability piece other than checking every paper. Thanks for the freebie.

    Ms. Chae Charges In

  5. So glad I read this! I have been struggling with how to get my kiddos through all the stations in one day and was thinking about adding a fourth station for my kids to go to so they did two a day. Thanks for sharing how you work it. This gives me lots to think about this weekend.

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

  6. I love the idea of math workshop and have implemented it before, but my district uses Saxon Math which is not set up in units but a different lesson on a different mathematical topic each day. It's doable, but makes it difficult to set up groups when there is not unit to pretest on, and there are completely different topics each day. We can't just focus on fractions for a few weeks and include stations on fractions. Any suggestions or do you know of anyone who does math stations with Saxon math?

    1. I'm sorry but I really don't know much about Saxon! I would think maybe you could do stations and small groups on skills you know they need a lot of review on? Like this week, my mini-lessons are on fractions but the stations are review from all year. :) hope that helps!


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