Preparing Math Workshop in your classroom is going to take some work from you but I know that you can do it. When I decided to implement Math Workshop in my classroom, I knew my schedule was going to be tricky but I was determined to make it work. First things first, you need to know your schedule. How are you going to use this in your classroom? In my school we had 42-45 minutes for each class period, crazy right? How the heck was I going to fit in instruction each week as well as Math Workshop? I just knew I couldn’t do it all at once and couldn’t do it all each day.
Through some trial and error I implemented this schedule. Two days a week we were completely whole group in our class working on new learning and applying that with our groups and/or partners. Then another two days a week we were in Math Workshop stations. Most weeks this was two stations a day and other weeks this was only one station a day and did the same stations for two weeks. That last day each week was used for any assessments, groups projects, another whole-class lesson, etc.
Another way that you could do this in your classroom is to only do one day a week and use the same stations for two weeks. The best thing about Math Workshop is there is NO ONE WAY to do it and you can do what works best for you and your students.
Determine Your Set Up
Where are you planning to store and house all of the supplies necessary each week? How are you going to make sure they are all there for the next class? This is where my love for organization takes the lead! I can’t recommend the use of Sterlite Large Latch containers enough for this. Each of my four stations had their own latch container and everything needed for that station was included in that latched box. The only time something may not be included was if the student was required to provide it (like a pencil) or if the item was too big (like a dry-erase board or Smart Pal). Using consistent storage is important as it will make the functionality and flow of your classroom easier for you, just make sure that you clearly label each. To help you get started on your organizational journey, enjoy the EDITABLE Labels to use on those Sterlite Large Latch Containers.
11 Tips for Preparing Math Workshop
- Use consistent storage containers that work together and have lids. This not only allows for a clean look throughout your classroom but also provides for an easier way to stack your containers.
- Clear containers are best so students can easily see what is inside.
- Label all containers no matter what. This will help you easily find things as well as things to always go back in their home.
- Don’t be afraid to put containers inside of containers to store loose items like manipulatives, dice, task cards, etc.
- Create an Amazon Wish List or Donor’s Choose project to help accumulate the necessary items for setting all things organization. Use storage you may already have at home collecting dust, ask friends or check sites like Facebook Marketplace, Buy/Sell/Trade groups, etc. and don’t be afraid to tell them you are a teacher to try and get things cheap or even free.
- Dollar Tree and stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s that offer coupons on top of their sales can be your best friend! A 50% off Storage sale with a coupon (check online) can save you big in the long-run.
- Have games at home that have lost pieces? Take the place markers and dice out of them and utilize them in your classroom.
- Over the door shoe racks are great for storage. Not only do they hold a lot in each pocket but clear ones allow students to easily see what is inside.
- Photo boxes are great for Task Card storage. You can get hard plastic ones in a carrying case for around $20 on sale (Amazon, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Joann Fabrics) and they will hold 16 set of task cards. Simply label the inside photo case with the concept you are covering and voila, you are one organized mama (or daddy)!
- File crates or even a drawer in your filing cabinet works great for storing station activities when not in use. Choose whether you want to store by concept or individually by activity based on how you will best find the materials next time.
- Determine how your students are going to keep track of their work each week. If you are like me it just saved a headache for them to keep it in a pronged folder and turn the folder in before they left each day. After the last day they took their work out of the folder, stapled it together, did a quick 3-2-1 reflection on that week’s stations and turned it in. If they were absent on one day or were pulled for Guided Math during a station, they simply wrote that on the recording sheet for that station. I could easily verify that with my notes but it made it easier to manage when checking/grading.
What tips do you have for preparing yourself, or others, as they are starting the journey in Math Workshop? We can all learn from the experience of others so please share below.
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