This chapter focuses on how to manage effective math work stations. There is so much to share!
Key points from this chapter are:
1. MODEL! MODEL! MODEL!
Mrs. Diller suggests that we "think clearly about how you want students to work in each station before you even begin them." This will help to ensure that math work stations run smoothly. Math work stations should fit the needs of our students; which change year to year and at times, week to week.
As you begin to use math work stations take time to model each work station; perhaps that day's mini lesson. Talk about what math work stations should sound, look, and feel like. As a class, create an anchor chart(s). As well, create I Can charts. These charts let kids know what to do at the center. For examples of anchor charts, check out this site.
Early mini lessons will focus on universal behavior management strategies. (See pages 50-51) What struck me as I read is that I already have many of these systems in place. I just had not thought to use them this way during my math time. (A lightbulb moment for me.)
Have students work in pairs. I do this during literacy centers and love it. Less children = more productivity.
Model how to use the math work station. Again, something I do with my literacy centers. My problem is that I do it all at once.
Teach children how to problem solve. This is part of our school culture, so my kids are pretty good with this.
Have a place for lost items. Again, I do this.
Have a system for going to the next center. In my classroom, I am the queen of the timer. My students know that it is time to clean up and meet at the carpet area for further directions.
2. Go slow! Less is best!
Do not plan on having math work stations up and running the first week of school. Take that time to get to know your students. Spend the first week(s) using the math manipulative, exploring them, playing with them. Introduce one math manipulative at a time rather than all at once. Use that time to observed students interacting with one another. Remind students of the expected behaviors. Once this is in place, you can begin to meet with small groups. Plan on fewer math work stations rather than many.
Change work stations only as needed. Let student observation and content mastery guide you. In kindergarten, I change "centers" once a month. In first, less frequently; once a trimester. Somehow reading this, I felt comforted knowing that I did not need to change all the work stations because the seasons changed or my theme did.
Use math talk cards during mini lessons. I have not done this but see how it is important to incorporate math vocabulary into the work stations. My goal is to create a math vocabulary anchor charts in lieu of a math word wall due to space issues.
Plan time for sharing. This is something I do not do either. I need to get better at this.
3. Make Time:
In order to have successful Math Work Stations, children need daily practice; at minimum 30 minutes a day. Remember math stations are "for reinforcement and extension of concepts and skills" you have taught. Here's my plan. Since I loop, this is how in envision it would look like in kindergarten and first grade.
4. Management Boards:
I loved the visuals provided throughout the book. As I started thinking about my Management Board, I thought of all the different math strands that a k-2 teacher may need. I created several labels to help label pocket charts, math tubs, etc.
I plan to differentiate math work stations by having different tubs specifically for my "proficient" or "at risk" learners. My "at risk" learners may have more scaffolds (i.e. number line, counters) whereas my "proficient" students may have more tasks at the math work station. I know that observation will be key to planning effective math groups.
Labels, Labels, Labels
I created my labels to match the management chart and the tubs. Get yours here. All you will need to do is print 2 copies onto Avery 8163 labels, mount onto card stock paper and laminate for durability. (Graphics courtesy of Thistle Girl Designs)
Happy Teaching and Learning!