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Implementing Math Workshop

“The goal during the first few weeks of Math Workshop is to create a learning culture in which students know and apply routines and procedures and are ready to assume the responsibility for their mathematical learning.” (Sammons/Boucher, p 119)

As we wind down the book study on Guided Math Workshop, I’ll bet you’re full of ideas and ready to go! 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

The book study may be finishing up, but the real work is just starting! Please continue to use the hashtag #GMWorkshopTCM to connect with other educators on Twitter. Laney and I will monitor the hashtag, but feel free to tag us in your tweets to make sure you get our attention. Twitter can be a great source of support, as some of you have found out during the course of the book study, and I hope you’ll connect with other educators on the Guided Math journey!

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 6, Implementing Math Workshop

  1. What is the best way to teach students workshop routines and procedures?
  2. How should I introduce new Math Workstation tasks to students?

It’s time to put all your planning and organizing into practice and launch Math Workshop! I know you’ve got a thousand irons in the fire as you prepare for the start of school, but if you skimp on the implementation plan, it’s likely that you’ll be disappointed with the results of Math Workshop. This chapter explains how to teach your routines, introduce new workstations, and implement Math Workshop over a 15 day period.

You have put significant effort into organizing your room for Math Workshop and developing your routines and procedures. For Math Workshop to be successful, you will need to methodically and deliberately introduce the students to your expectations, routines, and procedures. For each behavioral expectation, you will go through a cycle of describing the routine or procedure, modeling the behavior done correctly and incorrectly, having students role-play the behavior done both correctly and incorrectly, and then providing students with time to practice. You will see this cycle repeat over and over during the 15-day implementation plan.

The 15-day implementation plan is divided into three parts:

Week 1, Establishing Routines and Procedures for Math Workshop

For many students, Guided Math and Math Workshop will be a very different classroom structure than they have previously experienced. The focus of Week 1 is to introduce students to the purpose and format of Math Workshop. What should Math Workshop look and sound like? Even if students have previously used math centers, it is important to communicate that workstation tasks are designed to specifically meet their needs as mathematicians and to help each of them grow. During the first five days, students participate in discussions about Math Workshop, help create anchor charts that will serve as visual reminders of expectations, and practice routines and procedures. One of my favorite lessons for introducing routines and procedures is the true/false quiz on page 141. The sample in the book is designed for grades 3-5, but you could easily adapt it for younger or older students.

Week 2, Math Workstations: The Nuts and Bolts of Math Workshop

During Week 2, you will introduce your students to Math Workstation tasks and they will practice working independently. Using a sample Math Workstation, students will practice storage and retrieval of workstations, using Task Menus and Student Task cards, using Talking Points cards, and working independently.  It’s critical to debrief at the end of each lesson and allow students to self-assess their work habits. The success of Math Workshop hinges on student self-management, and students need to understand that self-assessment is necessary to help them grow as mathematicians.

Week 3, Thinking Like Mathematicians: Focusing on Mathematical Practices

The mathematical process standards outline how students should learn and acquire skills. This week, you will focus on these very important mathematical habits as you continue to practice and reinforce your Math Workshop routines and procedures. Students will engage in mathematical conversations, learn how to make mathematical connections, reason and justify their thinking, and engage in a problem solving process. It is important that students understand that these are skills that they will use in each and every workstation task. It is a critical part of creating a culture of mathematical learning.

In a perfect world, your implementation process would proceed smoothly, with no bumps in the road. As teachers, however, we know that is rarely the case. The suggestions on pages 132 and 133 will be a helpful resource if things don’t go as planned. It’s important to determine if the problems you are experiencing are with only a few students or with the majority of the class and address issues in a positive and respectful manner.

And there you go! I hope you have gained a better understanding of Math Workshop through your participation in this book study. Please take a minute to leave a comment below reflecting on your next steps. There’s comfort in hearing from others who are embarking on your same journey! Also, if you have any lingering questions, please feel free to ask them either here in the comments or using the Twitter hashtag. Here’s hoping you have a wildly successful school year!

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 Q10, start your response with A10. 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.

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  1. This is my third week of school but I would like to implement Math Workshop. Would you please give me some tips for beginning this process? I wish I had discovered your site earlier.

    1. Thank you so much, Joanne! I did not have any damage personally, although I have many friends and colleagues who were not so fortunate. Your prayers are greatly appreciated!

  2. I am implementing GUIDE model, I have 30 minutes to squeeze in 2 small groups. The kids are engaged but I can’t seem to figure out a small group schedule for me! I get caught up in conferencing with pairs and individuals and then time is gone. Any suggestions?

    1. Well, it sounds like you’ve identified your problem! Do you make plans for your conferencing or small group instruction? If not, it might be a good idea. Maybe you might also consider setting a timer to keep yourself on track. And remember, it takes time to get it all ironed out!

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