Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Run Math Workshop

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.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to provide you with everything you need to know about math workshop to help you run your classroom successfully with the math workshop model! At the bottom of this post, you’ll find all the links (as they publish) so you can join me and not miss a single piece of this series. Let’s get started.

Part 1: What is Math Workshop?

Math workshop has been around for a little while now and 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 closely with students and meet their needs.

This has been researched-based and uses bloom’s taxonomy, divergent thinking techniques, and Gardner’s multiple intelligences. It also incorporates Jensen’s brain-based learning, Fountas and Pinnell’s Reader’s workshop principles and Sousa’s brain-based research theories.

Ultimately in Math Workshop:

• students do most of the math (rather than the teacher).
• there’s lots of student choice (instead of one worksheet given).
• students talk about mathematical thinking and reasoning (instead of given a rote step-by-step procedure).
• students work collaboratively and learn from one another (instead of working alone and only the teacher’s way).
• students struggle with challenging math and learn from errors (instead of the teacher rescuing or spoon-feeding students).
• the teacher works in small groups and/or confers with students (instead of presenting only to the whole class).
• it is focused on conceptual understanding (instead of focusing only on the procedure and/or answer).

In a traditional math class, it is very teacher-centered. The teacher models problems until he or she feels most of the students understand. Then the teacher walks around and monitors students attempting to solve the problem the same way modeled.

In the math workshop model, it is student-centered. The teacher uses a variety of approaches to introduce students to the math concepts through a mini-lesson. Then he or she has students work on engaging differentiated math activities. At the end of the lesson, students reflect and/or share the strategies they used.

The Benefits

Since math workshop is student-centered, you are likely already aware of some of the benefits. The benefits are well worth it and will definitely help both you and your students!

• Students are more engaged
• Math ideas are connected rather than isolated
• Students work more collaboratively with peers
• Builds self-confidence in students and teachers
• Addresses students’ learning styles and needs
• Students put their thinking into words
• Teachers are more efficient
• It builds a classroom community
• Students teach and learn from others
• Allows for differentiation
• Allows for student-centered instruction
• Makes students responsible for their learning
• Allows for one-to-one teaching and small groups
• Teaches more than one answer or way
• Allows for inquiry and exploration
• Creates a math and numeracy rich-environment

In my next few posts, I’ll go into more detail about math workshop and its specific components, the difference between math workshop and guided math, and much more!

Want to read more about Math Workshop? Check out these additional “Everything You Need to Know to Run Math Workshop Successfully” Posts:

1. Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Run Math Workshop (Intro to what math workshop is and it’s benefits)
2. Why Your Math Workshop Model is Not Flexible (and How to Fix It!) (The math workshop structure and your options to being flexible)
3. How to Teach Your Math Opening Like a Pro (All about the math openings of math workshop)
4. How to Take the Headache Out of Mini-Lessons in Math Workshop (All about the whole group component of math workshop)
5. Make the Most Out of Guided Math (All about the guided math component of math workshop)
6. Are Guided Math Centers Really That Hard? (About the choices in guided math centers)
7. 3 Super Easy Alternatives to Math Centers (About alternatives to math centers during guided math)
8. The Importance of Meeting with Students During Math Workshop (All about one-to-one conferring and guided math groups)
9. Lesson Closures for Math Workshop (Ideas for how to close your math workshop)
10. How to Rock Your Math Workshop for Ultimate Student Growth (Tips for increasing student growth in math workshop)