If this school year is anything like the last two, you are probably thinking… What can I do this year that will keep my students engaged while also meeting their current academic needs as well as filling the learning gaps they have from previous years?
Over the past two years, I went further into my use of Math Workshop and Small Group
instruction and changed things up a bit to make it work better for me, and more importantly my students.
Why Did I Change Things?
The main reason… my students. They have changed since I first started teaching back in 2003 and the practices that I was trained in back then aren’t what works for students in 2023.
My students needed to be able to work on activities that fit their attention span, which is not even equivalent to the number of minutes they are old, and so I had to relinquish choosing all of the activities all of the time for them. We are in the YouTube/TikTok Generation where if we can’t grab their attention in the first 30 seconds they are scrolling to the next thing.
What Did I Change?
Instead of having Math rotations
where my students were each going through the same activities each week (or two weeks), I decided that choice boards were the way to go.
Choice boards have allowed my students to go through and CHOOSE
what order they want to work in and what activities they want to work on in their group for that day/time. I’m giving them the option to work on their choice of activity and therefore building buy-in from them.
How Did I Implement the Changes?
Building up the buy-in from my students was key… and it didn’t happen overnight. We had to practice it and practice some more. Letting them know that we weren’t all going to be working on the same things at the same time and that was okay was a big hurdle.
In the beginning, I started with Math Menus and while we struggled with it at first, I learned that less is more. Giving TOO MANY
options can be overwhelming for students but it can also be freeing for others. You have to learn to read your students.
Honestly, my students preferred using the Tic-Tac-Toe boards the most. There were times they only had to complete a row, times they had to complete the whole board, and then other times they had to earn so many points from the board (more about that in another post).
Wrap It Up
In the end, making these slight changes for math workstations allowed me to work with my small groups more effectively as I was pulling from the math workshop groups that were engaged in their choice of activity.
Allowing students free choice within their group made them responsible for their learning as they chose the activity and they were working with their group to communicate effectively and work through things.
Grab the FREE Editable Choice Boards
for you to use in your Math Workshop and enjoy the benefits!