Math Work Stations Chapter 3

Math Work Stations: Independent Learning You Can Count On, K-2
Getting Started With Math Work Stations
This chapter focuses on how to manage effective math work stations.  There is so much to share!
Key points from this chapter are:
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.)

My Aha's:
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.
My Aha's: 
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.
I have about 1 hour for math.  My have to's include: following the curriculum map to teach the same standard as my team, administer weekly exit slips about the standard taught, and an end of the chapter math test.  I am hoping to incorporate math work stations the first half hour and then, do the have to's.  This is a complete flip flop of how I currently do it.  Math centers are the extras; for the early finishers.

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)
Number Concepts                                             
Place Value                                                       

Whew! Now, it's your turn.  Post a comment or blog about it.  Don't worry.  This link will be open throughout the summer.  All I ask is that your directly link your post so that others may find it easily.  Please link up when the post is ready.  I will send out a reminder post occassionally.  So, as you set up your classroom, don't forget to check back here for ideas.

Happy Teaching and Learning!


  1. I like how you wrote in your "Aha's" - that is a great way to summarize the chapters! Maybe I'll start writing my future blog entries like that.

    You had great reflections; thanks for sharing them!

    Magnificent Multiagers!

  2. Thanks a bunch for linking me. I'm about to leave my classroom. I've been setting up for my thematic unit. I couldn't resist creating a post and checking to see if I needed to link before leaving. You are the best.

    Primary Graffiti

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  4. I like how Debbie Diller grouped the children in two's and then had plastic math tubs for each two children. She also suggested that the number they picked matched to where they would sit. A 60 minute math period would include 30 minutes of math stations (15 min./each) 2 ten 5-7 min. mini-lessons & then a 5 minute share time where one or two students share or the whole group shares. Debbie described how detailed you need to be in your lessons before going to workstations. I like the placements that were styrofoam and the blocks that were soft so they wouldn't make noise. I like how she set up her math station in the corner. I like the amount of supplies she had.

  5. I agree with all your comments. Debbie Diller does make thoughtful and purposeful decisions regarding student learning. I love the use of quiet blocks also. I also liked how students had "mats" which I think was shelf liner to roll objects onto.
    Thank you for joining in the discussion.

  6. I would love to have you link with me!
    I will be back after dinner to read and 'digest" this! thank you for this amazing post.

  7. Blogger isn't letting me comment back to you on my own blog..... so let me tell you here about that management board!

    That board was actually set up for literacy stations but it would obviously work for math stations. The color coding was for guided reading groups - that school was lucky enough to have a TON of specials teachers who also led guided reading groups, so literacy stations were 40 minutes long. Each student went to one station and also saw his or her guided reading group. Next to each students' name, you can see their color square which indicated that they needed to be in their group during that rotation. Then the groups are broken down on the left. It was really easy for the students to figure out where they were going!

    Magnificent Multiagers!

  8. thank you so much for you labels - what a HUGE help! Thanks so much for hosting this week. Virginia

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  13. I LOOOOVE your labels! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Love, love, love your labels. I can take this off my to do list. Yeah! I appreciate the link to Mrs. Meacham's site...she does have great ideas for anchor charts. Thanks so much!

  15. Wonderful post! Love your organization board and thanks for the labels! I printed them off and shared them with my team today!
    Ms. A
    Oceans of First Grade Fun

  16. I may have been too tongue in cheek with my post, but I do appreciate all the wisdom you shared with us on Chapter 3. I wanted to convey to teachers that even if you are very successful, change can be hard! Moving from thematic teaching to standards based teaching required a lot of thought and while I don't have it all smoothed out, the important thing is that my kindergarteners succeed. I look forward to following your blog. I linked it to my blog, I hope that's okay.

  17. I really enjoyed reading your post and I love the idea of having special tubs for your "at risk" and "high flying" kids to help with differentiation. What a great way to provide for students individual needs and have purposeful learning. We should all think about how to generate these based on the standards. Thank you for forcing me to stop and focus on this during a crazy, busy week.

  18. I love the labels- I searched for the graphics on Thistle girl but couldn't find them. I can't wait to get into my room and start organizing

  19. I love your ideas, thanks for sharing! My question is for others who use Everyday math. In our program we don't teach and stay on 1 topic for long. How will you add Everyday math concepts into your work stations?

  20. Mr. Mugurussa- I purchased the graphics. The set is called School Subjects. I'm almost positive you can purchase the set. It came with reading, math, art and science. Email if you need more help.

  21. I do not use Everyday math. But I think Cheryl from Primary Graffiti can help with this. Anyone else willing to offer an opinion.

  22. Your labels are awesome! I'd love to be able to share them with the teachers I work with. I'd like to ask permission to post them on my blog, giving you credit of course, so the teachers I work with can access them. Would that be OK?

    Facebook - Math Coaching P-4

    Thanks for considering it.

    Jill :-)

  23. Thanks, Jill for your kind words.
    Yes, you may post on your blog with a link to my blog and credit. Thanks so much for asking.

  24. Thank you for the labels - they are great!

  25. Love the labels and your reflection on Chapter 3. I've been following the book study blogs and was so excited about Math Stations, I had to order Debbie Diller's book. I can't wait to get back in school to try these with my kinders.

  26. Your labels are great and a time saver for me! Thank you so very much!

  27. I had many similar ahas and am excited to get math work stations going in my room next year! I was left with a few questions though after reading the book mostly regrading scheduling and fitting in time for the core curriculum (everyday math) that I am required to teach. I wrote about it, and if you have a second, would you mind looking at it and letting me know what you think?

    thanks for sharing your ideas!

  28. First of! I feel like it is my lucky night to have stumbled upon your blog. The only problem is I cannot "follow" you, since the "Followers" gadget is blank on my screen. How do I work around that? I want to make sure to read all that you share!

    Also, I cannot THANK YOU enough for sharing your Math Center labels. Not kidding...I was searching for hours, hoping someone already made some and there you are!! :)

  29. Thank you so much for the labels. I am just getting my work stations up and going. Thank you again!

  30. Great way for children to learn math. I agree with these improvements in Math.


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