What’s a Math Workshop?

What's a Math Workshop

Have you thought about hosting a Math Workshop in your classroom? It might sound overwhelming at first, but you’ll want to start one in your own classroom when you understand what a Math Workshop is.

A Math Workshop is just an instructional format for teaching your standards!

If you’re a self-contained teacher, you are probably already using a Readers or Writers Workshop with your students. A math workshop is similar in a lot of ways. You’ll format your instructional minutes to include a mini-lesson, some practice opportunities, and some time to reflect and assess student learning.

Like with Reader’s Workshop, you’ll start the learning process with a mini-lesson.

And by mini-lesson, I mean about 10 minutes. You’re mainly just introducing the skill.

You don’t want to spend too much time on your introduction because the most effective instruction comes from meeting with small groups of students. Limiting your introductory lesson to 10 minutes leaves more time for students to practice independently and with you in a smaller setting.

A Math Workshop is also designed to build engagement!

Frequently, you’ll use stations and centers to provide learning and practice opportunities that are more hands-on, authentic, and centered on 21st-century skills, such as collaboration and communication.

Math Collaboration

Your Math Workshop centers or stations can be created with manipulatives, technology, skills-based games, or even worksheets. During this time, students can work with a learning partner for added support.

In my classroom, we have several stations that students rotate among. We have “Math with the Teacher,” “Math with a Friend,” “Math with Technology,” “Math with Myself,” and “Math in the Real World.” These centers are designed to teach or practice the focused skill of the day or the week.

One benefit of the Workshop format is that it offers a vehicle for differentiating instruction and allowing students to work at their own pace.

Since the whole group portion of the lesson is short, there is more time to meet with students in flexible groupings. This allows you to remediate students who may be behind or enrich students ready to move forward.

You can also embed “voice and choice” into the learning opportunities. For example, you might offer a choice to practice a game on a computer or to play a physical board game with a friend. Both learning opportunities would be focused on the same learning objective. Still, the students can choose which option is best suited for them.

Independent Math Practice

You can also organize your Math Workshop so that the students can work at their own pace. I often use a punch list, which is just a list of learning opportunities that students should complete. Once a student has completed their learning and has shown mastery, they can move on to the following punch list and the next set of standards-aligned within that punch list.

Suppose your district is moving toward standards-based learning and grading. In that case, a math Workshop is a great way to facilitate this type of instruction. A Math Workshop allows students to work at the most appropriate pace for them.

Instead of the entire class learning the same lesson each day, students work on the skills they are ready for or, most important, within their learning path. Including assessment opportunities throughout the learning process helps you know which students have mastered the skill and need additional support through small group interventions.

A Math Workshop creates a higher degree of student ownership than a traditional classroom setting.

Students are expected to move among learning opportunities self-directedly. They are encouraged to be reflective about their own learning and seek out help when it’s needed. They are encouraged to learn independently through instructional or directional videos.

Student Math Responsibility

In a successful Math Workshop, the students move from activity to activity, work alongside other students, and learn how to solve their own problems. All the while, the teacher is working with small groups of students on precisely what they need.

All of this helps grow students who are ready to participate in the changing future. A math workshop requires students to be reflective, honest, responsible for their own learning and focused on a goal. It also allows students to communicate their own thoughts and ideas and take ownership of their learning.

If you’d like to learn more about a math workshop, stay tuned!

We’ll be sharing lots of quick posts about starting, organizing, and running a math workshop in your own classroom.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment! We love hearing from you all!

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