Math Workshop Monday~A New Weekly Blog Series

Hello, and welcome to a new series!  Most of the questions I receive in my inbox are related to Math Workshop, so I thought I'd take some time each week to cover a lot of the questions and to blog about what I am (of course) most passionate!  So, I've started a new series:

Each Monday, I will blog about what works and also what DIDN'T work for me for the last two years of implementing Math Workshop.  As a full must find what works for YOU.  I don't have all of the answers, just some ideas of what I have tried in my classroom.    I hope that you can find some tips and tricks that you can use!

Just to begin, if you haven't ever read my previous posts about Math Workshop, I'm reposting below to give you some background.  I'll be starting next week with some of the questions I have received.  If you have any questions or specific topics you would like for me to address, please feel free to email me or comment below!

Previous Post from 4/25/12:

As some of you may know, I've completely changed the way I teach math this year.  For years (a decade or more...shhhh don't tell), I've been teaching math primarily whole group with a few small groups as needed.

This year, however, I started Math Rotations.  I will NEVER go back.  Here's how I make it work for me:

First, I found the Math Rotations Board from Clutter-Free Classroom.  It uses the acronym MATH for organizing how your "rotate" from one activity to the next.  {You know how I love those acronyms.}
M-Math Facts 
A-At Your Seat
T-Teacher's Choice
H-Hands On
Here's a picture of my updated board from Tara:

Let me break down what we do at each "station".
Math Facts- This is where I have my students work on Math 4 Today Math Moves :) This is a daily drill that is spiraled curriculum reviewing all fourth grade skills.  There are only 4 questions to complete, so when they are finished with that, they start their At Your Seat Work.
At Your Seat- This is where my students complete the Independent Practice from the math book.  However, this is the work from the previous day's small group work.  So, for example, my students would be completing lesson 16-5.  I had taught 16-5 the day BEFORE in the Teacher's Choice Station.
Teacher's Choice- This is my small group instruction time.  My students are grouped into 4 different groups based on their ability (mainly their MAP testing data with a little teacher judgement thrown in there, too).  Again, I teach the lesson that the students will be completing the NEXT day during their "At Your Seat" station.  
Hands On- This is what most think of as real "Stations" or "Centers".  I use this time to have my students work with a variety of materials.  As you can see on the board above, I am lucky enough to have 3 iPods.  One is from the school, one is my son's old iPod and the last one is my iPhone-Yes, I let my students use it for stations-gasp!  I also have math sharks (electronic flashcards), Hot Dots and other "hands-on" materials. 

I differentiate their hands on work, too.  For example, this week, we are using the iPods and I have downloaded an App called "Math Testing Prep".  These are leveled.  So, I hand the iPod to the children after clicking on the level for that child.  When using the Hot Dots, I have three different levels for those, too.  I've separated them by level and put them in index card accordian file (like for coupons) that I got from the Target Dollar that Dollar Bin.  (Sorry that I don't have a picture for that.)

As you can see in the picture above, each group (Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4) all rotate through all stations during each math lesson.  For example, using the picture above, Group 1 will go to stations in this order:
1st-Math Facts
2-Teacher's Choice
3-At Your Seat
4-Hands On

This has worked for me.  Now, I will tell you it took about a month of tweaking to make it work the way it does now...but I stuck with it and am so glad that I did!


Check back in next Monday for more!  Don't forget to comment with questions :)


  1. Looking forward to it! It's great that you're still excited about learning new things for as long as you've been teaching.

  2. I am just starting Math Workshop this year so I am really looking forward to your posts!

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

  3. So glad you are doing this series! It will be very helpful as we work with guided math this year...

    Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers

  4. Love this - thanks so much for starting this and reposting your information!

  5. You know, I keep saying I will do this and I haven't been able to pull it off officially...I feel like I'm a very informal rotational person, if that makes any sense whatsoever, hahaha! We will go through these different rotations, but not as organized as you have it set up and clearly this is what I need to do. I'm really excited you are doing this new series because I think it will really help me FINALLY do this officially. Thanks Elizabeth! :)

  6. Really looking forward to this blog. I am just starting Math rotations this year and this will help as we are a multi-age classroom.

  7. Thank you for sharing your rotations. Teaching math whole group is NOT my favorite thing in the world, especially when I have a few who are well below grade level. I may have to try this is in my classroom!

  8. I am beginning math rotations in my 5th grade classroom next. What is the one most important "tip" you can give me as I start this new adventure. Thanks!!