Monday, October 27, 2008

Overview of Math Workshop

Math Workshop at CCE consists of a 60 minute Math Investigations block and a 15-20 minute Every Day Math Counts block. These two resources work nicely together to cover all of our state's mathematics standards.

The 60 minute Math Workshop has an Opening Session, Work Period, and Closing Session.

The Opening Session consists of a 15-20 minute math lesson; the lesson can be an introduction of a new problem, a mini-lesson on a skill related to the concept students are learning, an analysis of a problem situation or a problem solving strategy, or an explanation of the assignment.

Work Period is a 20-30 minute work session where students work independently, with a partner, or in small groups. The teacher facilitates instruction by meeting with small groups to guide or advise them or assess their progress. She may make anecdotal notes about a student's progress or difficulties or use a checklist to record observations. The teacher may also individually confer with students posing questions to redirect student thinking or deepen student understanding. During Work Period, the teacher is observing the strategies students are using and noting misconceptions that need to be a focus during Closing Session. The teacher will typically select student work to share in Closing Session.

The Closing is a 15-20 minute whole group session. Selected students share strategies or solutions as the teacher leads discussion on how these strategies are alike or different and which are most efficient. The teacher may also summarize the concepts that are the day's focus or connect it to concepts studied earlier, or may lay the groundwork for concepts that will be studied next. To address and correct misconceptions, the teacher may have a student share a strategy that did not work and the class may analyze why it did not work. This closing is critical to a lesson, and the part of Math Workshop that has traditionally been overlooked.

In CCE math classrooms, you will find this workshop structure in place. You will also see artifacts that support this workshop including

  • The Standards (the central artifact--all lessons are directly aligned with the standards)
  • Math Journals (a place to record student strategies or reflect on learning)
  • Teaching Charts (teacher-made, showcases student developed strategies or solutions, displayed for future reference)
  • General Math References (hundreds chart, number lines showing positive and negative numbers, problem solving methods, multiplication charts if applicable)
  • Class Diagnostic Notebook (individual standardized test reports, individual student diagnostic assessment profiles)
  • Display of Student Work (changed regularly to show current work)
  • Word Walls (math vocabulary relevant to current work)
  • Manipulatives (in central location and labeled for easy access)
  • Student Portfolios (in binders or hanging folders--showcases student work and strategies used to solve problems, may also include some graded/corrected assessments)
  • Math-related Literature (each Investigation book offers a list of recommended literature to read aloud to students)

The structure of the workshop and the artifacts that support focused meanigful instruction creates the environment condusive to developing young mathematicians. :)

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