Contributing Author: Danielle Lehmann
As teachers, one of the things we can do to make our classrooms successful learning environments is establish routines and procedures. It is what most of us spend the first 10 days of school doing in an effort to make our students comfortable and set them up for success. One of the subjects I have found a great procedure for is Math.
There are many different ways that teachers run their Math Workshops, and it takes some time to find what works for you and fits your classroom style the best. I have found that a rotation of 4 groups of students to 4 different activities works for me, and my students love it! This structure ensures my students are getting differentiated practice, helps me maximize my time, and allows me to spend time prepping for what matters most. Here is a breakdown of how my Math Workshop runs:
I have 5 “games” for students to play in the week. They practice anything from basic addition and subtraction facts to multiplication and division facts. Most of my “games” come from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and they provide a ton of games that are aligned to Common Core standards. You can access these from the NCDPI Elementary Resources page. My students love these games! I also use the Front Row Fact Practice (which student access on their student dashboards) to practice the four operations and to earn coins!
At Your Seat
During this rotation, students work independently on paper and pencil assignments or on their computer. This is where I implement Front Row the most! I had all students take the diagnostic at the same time starting with the Base 10 domain (since we began the year by teaching these standards). In my room, I have a way for students to track their goals on Front Row. I keep a sign posted for students to refer to in order to see where they should be in each domain of Front Row in order to be “on grade level.” This keeps them motivated and working towards a goal. As we cover each standard, I change the levels. Students do not have to ask me which domain they should do because it is readily available. If my students are finished with all the levels on the sign, they are allowed to explore our other Math websites.
Students are grouped for Math Workshop based on their performance on a Common Formative Assessment we give before each unit. This allows me to differentiate instruction and begin with skills that are needed for each group. I am able to save time with instruction by targeting the exact skills that each group needs. I also use the Front Row reports to help me form groups. I look at students who have passed the standard and those who are lacking the foundational skills to move on. Front Row’s Groups report can make your groups for you based on performance within a domain which is a great time saver!
In this rotation, students practice skills that we have just completed or are currently working on. These activities range from NCDPI games, task cards, performance tasks, etc. This is another way in which I can differentiate my instruction. Sometimes everyone works on the same skill and sometimes each group has a different activity to work on. For example, when we began multi-digit multiplication, many students already understood multiplying by multiples of 10s, 100s and 1,000s. However, I had one group of students who needed some practice. We reviewed the skill during Teacher Time together, then they practiced this skill with a work mat and factor cards from Math Coach’s Corner during this rotation.
In the beginning of the year, I established expectations for each of these rotations and we practiced these expectations together. Research shows that predictability in a child’s school day helps them stay on task, reduces conflicts, and increases engagement. Keeping structure in your classroom can help relieve stress for both teachers and students. In addition, I believe that differentiating and targeting certain skills through this model helped increase my students’ fluency and understanding of many necessary math skills. I hope this inspires you to try some new structures and procedures in your classroom!
Danielle Lehmann is a 4th grade teacher at B. Everett Jordan Elementary School in Graham, North Carolina. She has been teaching for three years in the same school and at the same grade level. Her love of technology is seen in her classroom and has opened up opportunities for her growth. She has become a part of her district's Tech Apprentice program in which she works with other teachers and administration to effectively infuse technology into instruction and help students become 21st century learners and leaders. This program exposed her to the benefits of Front Row and has led her to be a Front Row Ambassador!