Workshop. It’s a popular methodology that has made its way into many classrooms. Reader’s Workshop. Writer’s Workshop. I have even implemented Science Workshop as an integrated piece in my Reader’s Workshop due to time constraints. And now, Math Workshop. With Common Core in effect, teachers are faced more and more with so much to do and so little time to do it, let alone time to jump aboard the trend bandwagon. That’s what this blog series will be about. How can I help you implement Math Workshop in the easiest and most effective way possible? Today is just a quick overview of what workshop is. The next few posts will really get into the “meat” of it.
What is Math Workshop?
Math Workshop is very much like Reader’s Workshop, where you have a mix of whole-group instruction and small-group instruction. However, the main focus is on small-group instruction so you can work closer with students and meet their needs.
Whole Group Instruction in the Form of a Mini-Lesson
Just like Reader’s Workshop, during Math Workshop teachers begin with a mini-lesson that is whole group. Teachers spend approximately 15-20 minutes introducing a strategy, modeling, and/or providing a think aloud on a specific math concept. Basically, during this time, the teacher is just giving a taste and setting the stage for small group instruction.
Small Group Instruction – The Heart of Math Workshop
During this time, the teacher works with rotating, small, flexible groups to practice new skills, work with manipulatives, introduce new concepts, or elaborate more on the mini-lesson. This would be the more intensive and targeted instruction.
What Are the Others Doing During This Time?
While you are working with small groups, the rest of the class is participating in independent work or cooperative work. They may be practicing previously mastered skills, investigating new skills, playing math games, or writing in their math journals.
During Math Workshop, the teacher takes time to confer with students each week. This is a good time to informally assess each student’s understanding and provide one-on-one teaching moments.
Wrap Up the Math Workshop With a Closing: The Share
In the last five minutes or so of Math Workshop, students will share what they have learned, answer the essential question, journal, summarize, provide a vocabulary review, or do another activity related to the mini-lesson’s focus.
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In my next few posts, I’ll go into more detail about each of these components, what they really look like, and much more! You can find the next post here.
The Nitty Gritty:
- Math Workshop is similar to Reader’s Workshop as both use a mix of whole-group instruction and small-group instruction with the focus being on small-group portion.
- Teachers begin with a whole-group lesson lasting 15-20 minutes. This lesson can introduce strategies and concepts or provide modeling and think alouds.
- Next comes the small-group instruction portion. The small groups rotate and are flexible. During this time, the instruction is more intensive and targeted. Groups that are not working with the teacher are working on activities independently or cooperatively.
- Teachers meet with students each week and informally assess them. One-on-one instruction can occur.
- The last five minutes of this math model is saved for sharing. Students can share what they have learned, answer the essential question, journal, etc.