Managing Guided Math Workshop

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

“Effective management practices springboard student learning and allow teachers to extend their mathematics instruction in a myriad of ways…” (Sammons/Boucher, p 49)

This week in our book study of Guided Math Workshop, we will be discussing considerations for the management of Guided Math Workshop. So important! You can catch up by using the links in the Reading Schedule below. Jump in anytime!

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Reading schedule

Join the slow Twitter chat

Lots of useful conversations this week as part of the Twitter chat. Even some great pictures shared! If you are new to Twitter and need some information about how to use it, check out this handbook for educators.

To join in the slow Twitter chat, type the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in the search box–look for the magnifying class in the top right hand corner by your profile picture (see the picture below). It is not case sensitive, but people often use upper and lower case letters for hashtags to make them easier to read. After you have searched on the hashtag once, it will be listed in your Recent Searches, so you won’t really need to type it again.

Once you are “in” the hashtag, click on Latest (top left hand corner–see picture below) to see all of the tweets, with the most recent listed first.

Scroll through to read what others have posted, reply to others, tweet your thoughts, or even pose your own questions. Remember to include the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM in your tweets and replies, or they won’t show up in the feed.

Chapter 3, Managing Workshop

  1. What should I take into consideration as I develop routines and procedures for students working independently in Math Workshop?
  2. How will I hold students accountable for their independent word during Math Workshop?

You’ve decided on the structure you will use for Math Workshop (rotations, GUIDE, etc.), planned how to organize your room, and now it’s time to think about how you will effectively manage Math Workshop. Effective management is absolutely critical for the success of Math Workshop, so you’ll want to spend plenty of time developing your routines and procedures. After all, if you don’t have a clear picture of how Math Workshop should look in your classroom, you can’t communicate your vision to the students. The lists on pages 50 and 51 are helpful for determining the types of routines and procedures you’ll need before, during, and at the close of Math Workshop. If you are new to Math Workshop, seek out the advice of teachers with experience in the structure. While you want to be as thorough as possible in planning for all situations that might arise, understand that you can always add to or adjust your procedures once you get started with Math Workshop and learn more about your students and their needs.

Probably the biggest shift when moving to a Guided Math structure is the amount of time students work independently. For Math Workshop to be effective, students must have the mindset that the workstations are their “work” as mathematicians and they are expected to do their very best. Will it always be perfect? No! But you must have processes in place to hold students accountable for their work, or Math Workshop is likely to more closely resemble playtime than workshop. The first step to accountability is developing a learning community in your classroom. Students need to see themselves as mathematicians. At CAMT this summer, a teacher from Duncanville ISD shared a Mathematician’s Pledge she uses with her kiddos that is based on the oath used in Taekwondo. It goes like this:

I am a mathematician.
I look for patterns in the world around me.
I work hard.
I never give up.
I will continue to learn and grow.

Having a self-reflection component to Math Workshop emphasizes the link between work behavior and learning and helps students develop the skills needed to be self-directed learners. Just knowing that they will be asked to reflect on their work habits makes students more keenly aware of the expectations and their behavior.

While pencil and paper tasks offer built-in accountability, it’s easy to hold students accountable for a wide variety of workstation tasks. Use simple recording sheets for games, or have students record work in math journals. Digital devices can be used to snap pictures of the work done in workstations. It’s my goal this year to investigate Seesaw, which is a tool for developing digital portfolios. When reviewing student work, it’s important to address mistakes, misconceptions, and work output immediately.

Here are the slow Twitter chat questions I will post this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just search on the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM throughout the week to see the questions, read comments, and add your responses. We will use the Q and A format. For example, to respond to Q1, start your response with A1. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to your tweet and all replies to tweets. If you don’t, it won’t show up in the feed for the chat.

Add your thoughts about planning Math Workshop in the comments below. If you’re not using Twitter, you can still use the Twitter questions to frame your comments here.

4 Comments

  1. Mel

    I always say that organization is one of my weakest skills. But, it actually is more that the weakness is in the implementation and management of routines. When I was a TItle 1 math tutor, I was great at managing small groups, but then I became a classroom teacher and now struggle with small groups in the classroom setting.(I still do them because I believe in them, but they can be challenging!) I will STRIVE to remind myself of this chapter, and will totally borrow the quote about being a mathematician.

    I am having trouble trying to place math support, specifically TItle 1, into the GUIDE model. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Mel, consistency with management takes continuous self-reflection, and it’s not easy! I’m sure many other teachers share your frustration. We sometimes think that once we tell and teach our routines, our students should remember and follow them…forever. That’s just not usually the case. We all need reminders about expectations.

      Having support in a Guided Math classroom is a gift! You can use your support to pull small groups or to help work with students in workstations. With the GUIDE model, the teacher is not part of rotation, so you and your support teacher can be pulling different small groups at the same time while the rest of the students work in their workstations.

      Reply
  2. Felicitas

    I know students can be responsible and accountable but what I have to take into consideration is when students are not used to working independently or they have worked in centers with no accountability. I have to remember my patience. I have been putting much thought to my organization and placement of work stations. I know students can be responsible because I’ve seen it with previous classes. My goal this year is to improve on student self-reflection and accountability. The physical part I believe I have worked out it’s the other stuff I need to work on.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Yes, the management piece is quite possibly the toughest part of Guided Math! Hopefully, the chapter later in the book about implementing Math Workshop will be helpful.

      Reply

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