There’s no getting around it…students need to practice math. But how you accomplish that practice is an instructional decision. I’m a big proponent of a math workshop approach with meaningful, flexible workstations.
Let’s look at how workstation task cards can grow with your students and allow you to easily differentiate your instruction. For maximum flexibility, you don’t want to include actual numbers with the tasks. You can see how the task card for adding with a 120 chart pictured below does not include the amounts for the students to build. Instead, you want the numbers to be random. That’s also where the differentiation comes in. Using a set of cards to 120, you control the magnitude of the numbers students work with. This also gives you the flexibility to reuse this task multiple times throughout the year–something you can’t do with worksheets.
Another benefit of using task cards is that students use their math journals to record their thinking, rather than just filling in blanks on a worksheet. This brings those all-important Standards for Mathematical Practice into the process. The use of a math journal chronicles a student’s growth throughout the year and puts all the important math work they’ve done at their fingertips.
From a teacher prep perspective, workstation task cards can be your friend! Yes, getting started involves copying, laminating, and cutting. And the themed number cards look lovely in color, which can be expensive. But B & W number cards work just as well, and whether you use color or B & W, once they’re laminated you’re done! No scrambling every week to run copies of your worksheets. You just decide on which task you want the kiddos to do, which numbers you should use, and your prep is done!
If you’re ready to get started, you might want to check out my Workstation Task Cards which contain 28 workstation activities aligned to the K-2 CCSS.