# Why your Math Workshop Model is Not Flexible (And How to Fix It!)

If you’re new to math workshop, you may be wondering about its structure and how exactly the model is set up. Typically, most people are familiar with some of the components, such as the fact that it contains an opening, small groups, and a closing. However, what most people are not familiar with is the flexibility that is involved. The math workshop model is often thought of as a rigid structure that has to be followed exactly and that is absolutely not true.

Today I’ll continue in my math workshop series on everything you need to know to successfully run math workshop. Last time I discussed what math workshop was and the benefits to it. The focus today is on the structure of math workshop.

## What is the Structure of the Math Workshop Model?

The math workshop model is very similar to Fountas and Pinnell’s Reader’s Workshop. This means it contains an opening, whole-group, guided math, and a closing. Let’s look at the breakdown of each of these:

Math workshop has an ongoing assessment and differentiation infused throughout the entire math workshop model. The model is then broken up into different components:

• 10% of the time dedicated to an opening (warm-ups).
• 30% of the time dedicated to whole group (mini-lesson).
• 50% of the time dedicated to guided math (small groups).
• 10% of the time dedicated to a closing (reflection).

## The difference between Guided Math and Math Workshop

We often see the names Math Workshop and Guided Math used interchangeably. Sometimes we see what appears to be two separate models. This often makes us wonder, which is accurate?

They are both correct. They both have the correct components. However, because the math workshop model was based on Fountas and Pinnell’s Reading Workshop structure, we will be using the same model for Math workshop.

Math workshop is the same structure where the warm-up (opening), mini-lesson and guided practice (whole group), independent practice (guided math), and closing occurs.

Guided math is just one piece of math workshop where the teacher meets with students in small groups and differentiates the math to the needs of the students. It often just comes down to which term you want to use.

## Choosing to be Flexible with Your Structure

One of my absolute favorite things about the math workshop model is the flexibility that it allows. Each structure below still has the main components of math workshop, but it allows for flexibility in the lesson and activities used.

In the task-based or project-based structure, the block is more whole group. Instead of providing a small mini-lesson and guided math, the teacher uses the time to have students work on a task or project-based activity. Students can be broken up into small groups to work and then share out at the end their mathematical thinking. Typically, teachers start with ready to use projects, such as Design my House or Geometry Town, and as the year progresses move more toward having students design their own projects.

This structure is not used every day or every week, but can be used often to provide students with opportunities to explore problem solving skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and so much more!

### Station-Based Structure

In the station-based structure, the teacher can choose to have the opening, but completely skip the whole group portion (mini-lesson). Instead, he or she would go directly to the guided math piece. This would allow more time for students to work on independent work, meet in small groups with the teacher, and rotate to stations if the teacher desired.

Like the task-based or project-based structure, this is not something you’d do every day because the whole group mini-lesson is absolutely critical. But it allows for flexibility if you need another day to review a skill, etc.

### The Regular Structure- with Flexibility

In the regular structure, you can decide how you want your guided math time. You can have students rotate through stations- including meet with you, only meet with you while others work independently, only complete stations, or just have students work independently. This can also vary from day to day depending on your lesson and activities.

Even though math workshop has a structure that can appear rigid, there are many choices, such as the one’s above, that can allow for flexibility in your classroom. When planning out your lessons for math workshop, mix it up occasionally with one of these other structures.

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)