Friday, August 2, 2013

Math rotations

I don't teach my math block in a whole group setting.  Last year, I had the privilege of working with the lowest academic math group which really pushed me to reexamine my practices as a teacher.  Since about half of my math class was filled with students with IEPs and nearly ninety percent of them ELL (English Language Learners) students, I thankfully had support from a paraprofessional (special education support staff).  

Since our students weren't successful in a whole group setting, we broke math down to 3, 20 minute rotations after our Number Talk during breakfast.  

Rotation 1: new material with me 

Rotation 2: review of content and word problem strategies with our para

Rotation 3: centers, manipulatives practice (or previewing the manipulatives), computer/iPad review or collaborative group work with an emphasis on the 8 math practices.

I was concerned with students developing their number sense and working knowledge of math. I was more concerned with reasonableness and strategies than the right answer (although that matters too).  

My groups were based on needs and behaviors.  They were flexible and students were on task a majority of the time (which is asking a lot for ten year olds at eight am).  If they made the decision to be off task, that's when they were assigned work sheets and tedious "drill and kill" activities.

My students were assigned a few problems nightly for homework in their notebooks.  I didn't give out worksheets.  They solved the problems and talked about them with each other and me during our warm up.  

I found this super cute anchor chart on pinterest and it would have been great to find last August!

I know other teachers had great success with pulling small groups on Fridays after giving formative assessments all week.  They would use that time to reteach concepts while other students worked collaboratively at stations, centers, computers, iPads, etc.  

Of course, after you've gone over the 8 math practices, it's great to have an anchor chart like this to remind students of your expectations:

Happy math time!

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