Why the Workshop Model? {Freebies Included!} - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Why the Workshop Model? {Freebies Included!}

I absolutely love the Workshop Model. Love, as in big puffy-heart-love. I love it so much, I used to run a linky called Workshop Wednesday- you can see the past posts here if you are interested. And so do my kids! With so many levels and abilities of students within one classroom, it is just not possible to reach all of your kiddos through ONLY whole group lessons. Differentiation is the best part of the workshop model! Kids feel successful because they are working on their level. You feel successful because you see light bulbs going off as you work with your students in small groups. It's a win-win!

Get ready for a long, informative post...
but with freebies, so it's worth it, I promise!

With the workshop model, there is still a whole group lesson, but it is a mini-lesson: no more than 20 minutes. The mini-lesson should teach a grade level standard. I like to use the I DO-WE DO-YOU DO method where I show them a skill, then we work together to do it, then they try it on their own or with a partner. This keeps my lesson short and sweet. If you already follow me, you know I LOVE content integration. When I can, I try to use mentor texts to cover several skills. I can read a great book to them once, then just go back into that book to the parts we need to review for other lessons. It helps save time (because as much as I'd love to read a book at every lesson, we know those would usually NOT be mini-lessons). Here is a freebie you can use in math AND during writing for mentor sentences! (Not familiar with mentor sentences? Click here!)
The book, A Remainder of One, is pretty short, so you could use it as your math mini-lesson and have the students complete the interactive activity with you while you read. (This is one lesson included in my Math Mentor Sentences with MATH Interactive Notebook Activities.)

**There ARE days when whole group time needs to be extended longer than 20 minutes. You don't want this to be every day, but there are definitely some skills that are hard to introduce in 20 minutes. On these days, you may not get to small groups.**

Your small groups should not be the same lesson delivered to four different groups. You might as well just teach whole group every day if you want all of your students to receive the same lesson! Your small groups are where the differentiation happens. Now, this does not mean you can't teach the same skill to more than one group... we want students to move along the spectrum of understanding from concrete to abstract. Maybe you are working with students on multiplication in small groups: some students will need to use manipulatives to build arrays, some will be able to draw the arrays, while others will be "counting by 5's" to solve.
Workshop model with Ideas by Jivey.
One important thing to note is that you can NOT fly by the seat of your pants with a Workshop Model. Planning is so important... not only knowing what your mini-lesson will be... but also who you will be pulling in small groups, what skills you will cover, and what you will need to teach that skill. Then of course, you need the plan for what the rest of the students are doing, too.

Enjoy these free lesson plan organizers to help you plan for your workshops! Click on the link or the images below to automatically download them to your computer.
Free lesson plan organizer with Ideas by JiveyFree lesson plan organizer with Ideas by JiveyFree lesson plan organizer with Ideas by Jivey
These freebies are included in two products in my store! Last summer, I released a guide to Launching Reading Workshop to help you see how I run Reading Workshop in my classroom. Setting it up is the crucial part- getting the rituals and routines going early on will guarantee a successful year.

I am excited to announce I have just released my guide to Launching Math Workshop!
Launching Math Workshop guide with Ideas by Jivey.
I absolutely love my rainbow colored ten-cart drawer, and I have used it for my stations for a few years. This new guide is colored to match, but you do not have to have the ten-cart drawer to use it.
Workshop Color guide with Ideas by Jivey
Just like my Reading Workshop guide, the Math Workshop guide lays out how I establish routines in my classroom, how I determine groups, and how I set up my stations. It also includes two differentiated stations for each of the four rotations to get you started! I will also be creating more differentiated station sets (sold separately).

Stations are important to differentiate as well, because you don't want students to feel frustrated while they are working away from you. I like to use math games as much as possible because then students don't really feel like they are working. Here is a free game my students love- it is also included in Launching Math Workshop.
Workshop model tips with Ideas by Jivey.

There is another version in the complete set that only goes to 1,000... but you could even differentiate this game by providing different dice!
Workshop tips with Ideas by Jivey.
Using ten-sided dice will provide a challenge because they will have to strategically place the big numbers in order to not go over 1,000,000. An easier version would be with six-sided dice.

I hope this helps get you started on the right foot this school year with workshops! If you'd like more ideas for Math Workshop, follow my Pinterest board!


  1. Love this post. I am trying to wrap my head around using a workshop approach for everything. My biggest challenge is the record-keeping/accountability piece. Do you have any advice on how you have managed this?

    1. I include an accountability report for the students in this pack- it is a reflection of sorts. I also use checklists for record keeping. :)

    2. Thanks! I'll check it out!

  2. Any chance for a 2nd grade version?

  3. At this time, no. I'm sorry!! My to-do list is still a mile long! Maybe one day. :)


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