Saturday, January 11, 2014

Math Workshop-Overview

Last summer I had the pleasure of coordinating an online Book Study on the book Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer.  I coordinated the book study because our 7th grade math team was being required to move to a workshop model for delivery of instruction in our math classes and I wanted to do everything I could over summer to prepare for this shift in instruction for the 2013-2014 school year.  I was very lucky to have a new math colleague, Charla, who was as excited about the implementation of the workshop model as I was and we spent countless hours over the summer discussing the book and our plans for the upcoming school year. She continues to be a great sounding board for me when thinking about new ways to tweak our workshop model.   Click Book Study  to learn more about workshop and see links to other amazing educators who participated this summer.

This past Tuesday we started up our #momathchat on Twitter where we discussed how things were going with implementing the model.  I encouraged everyone to do a blog post about anything related the math workshop model.  That is what is prompting me to get back in the blog posting saddle.  It's been such a busy school year and blogging has definitely taken a back burner as I have focused on my classroom and the busy family life we have with three active boys who play way too many sports. Please join us next Tuesday 7-8 CST if you'd like to chat with other educators who are doing math workshop with middle grade students, follow #momathchat on Twitter for Minds on Math Chat.

I am really loving using a math workshop with my students.  I feel this model allows me the time to get to know my students' as learners on a much deeper level than I previously would have been able to.  I love the shift from LESS ME to MORE THEM doing the math.  They have far exceeded my expectations for collaborative group work.  I see lightbulbs going on and the exciting thing is that I am only guiding them to the switch, they are turning them on all by themselves or with the help of their peers.

To give you a general background about my classes and set up, I teach one section of 7th grade accelerated math and have 32 students.  That's a lot of kids in one class, but they are so amazing and it is just so much fun to teach them.  Really I love that I start my day with this fun, intelligent, and motivated group of learners.

I teach three sections of 7th grade math and these are all inclusion classes where I have a special ed teacher or aide in the classroom with me. Each class has 28-30 students.  These classes are full of fun, intelligent, and motivated learners as well, but also have some students that struggle with math skills or confidence, content knowledge or motivation.  They are great collaborative learners as well.

We use Carnegie Learning a blended curriculum which is part collaborative classroom instruction using a consumable text and online personalized learning via MATHia software.  We are finding it to be a curriculum that works very well with the workshop delivery model.  We just need to stop trying to do every problem and every lesson because it's too much.  Our mathematical cups runneth over with the goodness of Carnegie.

Now to get on with it... My post focuses on the Workshop Lesson Structure I am currently using in my classroom.  I have an Elmo and a SMARTBoard that I use to project problems/lessons.  I will typically project homework answers on the Elmo.  My school computer is on its last bits and bytes and the Elmo tends to give my MacBook the spinning wheel of death every time I use it, so I tend to turn it off after correcting or it messes my computer up.  We are getting new teacher laptops next year thank goodness!

At the beginning of this school year we spent several days getting our classes set up for math workshop.  We focused on building a strong sense of community and collaboration.  I'm sorry I never blogged about some of our #1st5days activities we did with the students.  They really enjoyed them and so did we.  I would strongly suggest that you really take time to set up your expectations for math workshop before jumping in because it is a shift for many students for them to be doing more math in the classroom than the teacher.

I use the SMARTboard to project our Workshop lessons which includes to the Opening, Mini Lesson, Work Time expectations for the day, and Sharing and Reflecting.


  1. Thanks for coordinating the Twitter chat. You've inspired me to keep experimenting with the workshop model.

  2. I agree, thanks for getting the chats started back up! I would love to hear more about your first day activities when you get a chance (maybe over the summer!)

  3. I would like to start a math workshop, but the thought is intimidating. Keep posting your valuable info!

  4. How do you teach the content in 10 minutes?? I want to do workshop too but I feel like I could never reach the students with only 10 minutes of lesson...


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