Balancing the Math Block

17 September 2015
Vocabulary, fact fluency, whole group, workstations, interactive notebooks, math journals, anchor charts, assessments, blah, blah, blah...  There are so many great ways to teach math and so many different components of an effective math classroom, but seriously how do you fit it all in when you have 70 minutes or less to do math!!

All of the pieces..

Everything I listed above goes into my math block... seriously... some days even the blah blah blah may be in there. The most important parts to me... vocabulary, workstations, and interactive notebooks. The rest of it ties in with those three things.

Now how can  you fit it all in...

On Mondays I hit vocabulary hard... real hard... and we add our notes to our interactive notebooks. I don't usually start a unit during the middle of the week... that's why I said Mondays. The rest of the week we are completing activities that may end up in our interactive notebooks, but we are doing them in workstations...

I sure hope my principal doesn't find this... but I don't do whole group everyday (Please put your pitchforks away)!

Data shows that kids are better benefited by utilizing small groups. They get so much more out of sitting with the teacher at the teaching table, then trying to keep up when working with whole group! In small group workstations students are completing activities where they must use their vocabulary and explain their understanding and thinking.

Fact Fluency is also a major skill so including that in a workstation either with a digital program, such as Reflex math or plain ole flash cards, students are still getting practice answering their math facts fluently.

Anchor charts are completed as a workstation or at the teaching table. Having the students create these are the best way to do it so that students are using it to show their thinking and giving their own in depth explanations.

Math journals are a great way to get students explaining their thinking. Create prompts that are very simple and utilize one strip on a piece of paper. This way you can print more than one at a time and students can glue these to the top of the student page in their interactive notebooks. Math Journals are perfect to use as an exit ticket when ending a lesson.

Interactive notebook activities and math journal prompts are great ways to assess your students, but if you have to give a dreaded formative assessment...boooooooo. try that at the end of the week, maybe even if you have done workstations that day to give your students the extra push and extra practice.

When thinking about all the different things that you have to include in your math block... you may be a bit overwhelmed... Don't worry... I know you can do it!


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