Differentiating instruction is one of the greatest challenges for self-contained classroom teachers. Gone are the days of whole group lessons, and assigning the same activities to the entire class. We now teach in a student-centered environment where personalized learning is key.

Fortunately, our students are more engaged and successful than with the former instructional model. Unfortunately, teachers often feel swamped by the prep, coordination, and organization required to maintain quality differentiation. The key to keeping overwhelm at bay is the use of consistent routines and frameworks like math workshop, daily 5, reader’s workshop, and writer’s workshop throughout the day.

### What Is M.A.T.H. Workshop?

M.A.T.H. workshop is a framework that allows students to learn new math content each day, practice math strategies in a variety of ways, and reflect on learning through verbal or written sharing. The predictable structure of math workshop makes it easier for students to participate in differentiated activities.

The components of M.A.T.H. workshop include:

- Daily math warm up (10-15 minutes)
- Mini lesson (10 minutes)
- M.A.T.H. practice time (40 minutes)
- Share (5-10 minutes)

### Daily Math Warm Up

This is a time when students are provided spiral review, and routine practice with challenging skills that require repetition to achieve mastery. Your math adoption may have a strong spiral review component that can be utilized, or you may be interested in differentiating your warm up through the use of an activity like Number of the Day (you can learn more about why I prefer this option here).

Your students should be able to complete the daily warm up activities with complete independence to set a positive tone for their workshop session each day.

### Mini Lesson

Each day, students participate in a 5-10 minute lesson, during which new math content is introduced. This is one of two times very brief times when all students are potentially working on the same activity simultaneously. This is also a time when students can work through personalized lesson sequences using Khan Academy, Front Row, or your own video lessons recorded using a tool like Educreations.

### M.A.T.H. Practice Time

Following their daily math lesson, students have an extended work session when they practice the new math skills taught that day, build their problem solving skills by solving performance tasks, get hands-on math practice, work on project based learning, complete assessments, use technology to practice math skills, and receive differentiated instruction from you.

How is this possible? These activities are organized into the following categories, stations, or rotations:

##### M – Meet with the teacher

Students receive differentiated instruction from you. You can either schedule specific small groups to work with each day, or formatively assess students as they work, and pull individuals and small groups as needed.

In my third grade class, I prefer the latter because I can touch base with more students each day using this approach.

##### A – At your seat

Students work to build their math reasoning, modeling, and problem solving skills. This is a perfect time for students to work on assignments that match their specific skill level.

Resources utilized for the at your seat rotation in my third grade class include:

- Reteaching, practice, and enrichment sheets from our math adoption for math drill and equation practice.
- Problem Solving Task Cards for practice with performance tasks, word problems, math modeling, and writing about math reasoning.
- Project based learning units to apply math concepts to real world situations and provide cross-curricular integration.

##### T – Technology

Students build math fact fluency using math websites or apps.

Websites used in my third grade class, depending on the unit, include IXL, Front Row, Khan Academy, Quick Math, Hungry Fish, and Multiplication.com.

##### H – Hands on

Students build math reasoning and fact fluency as they play math games. Providing students with game cards that have a consistent format boosts independence and engagement.

In my third grade class, we use Math In Motion Hands On Math Games for every math unit.

### Organizing Student Groups

To maximize efficiency and focus in the classroom, you may want to group students based on a pre-assessment. The groups you form can work through these activities at assigned times to minimize overcrowded at a specific rotation option, and to provide balance in the type of practice students participate in each week.

I use the schedule template above to provide each group with equal opportunity to visit each station. To access this editable schedule template and a set of printable number desk tags, click here.

### Share

Students take a moment to reflect on the math progress made that day and share their thoughts verbally, or in writing. This is the second brief time when all students are potentially working on the same activity simultaneously. A few methods for sharing include:

- Buddy share out: share a reflection, or the response to a specific question with a math buddy.
- Whiteboard share: write a reflection, or sharing response on a whiteboard.
- Journal share: write a reflection, or sharing response in a journal.
- Exit Ticket: write the response to a specific question on a whiteboard, or on a slip of paper.
- Whole class share out: take a moment to reflect silently, then share a reflection with the class.

### The Benefits of M.A.T.H. Workshop

Since implementing the M.A.T.H. Workshop framework in my third grade classroom, math time has become one of our favorite parts of the day.

Students are more engaged because they participate in a variety of activities each day. Student achievement has grown because students are engaged in math work that is “just right” for them.

My math prep time is minimal because I rarely need to change centers, print materials, or prep elaborate lessons. I have more assessment data because I interact with students and can provide them support at their level.

### Ready To Give M.A.T.H. Workshop A Try?

If you want to give M.A.T.H. Workshop a test drive in your own classroom, feel free to share any questions you have about implementation in the comments below.

Amy says

I am very excited to try this in my 4th grade classroom. In your post, you mentioned preferring to pull groups as needed based on your formative assessments, how do you keep that organized? (Knowing who you pulled, if they finished their seat work,etc)

I also have 25-26 kids… do you have approx 8 students in each group then?

Laura Santos says

Hi Amy,

So happy to hear you are planning to try this with your fourth graders. Not sure if you are the same Amy that commented on the Instagram post about tracking the time spent with students/organizing groups. If so, please stop by Instagram to watch the story I will be posting tomorrow morning. 🙂 Here’s a general overview:

I have 25 students – approximately 8 students in each group to create a balance in the number of students rotating through activities. I have a few different tracking sheets that help me track formative assessment data each day (one of those recording sheets is shown at the bottom of this post).

I do prefer to pull groups as needed rather than having a set group meeting schedule. I find this helps me touch base with almost every student every day. The way this is achieved: students must have the 5-6 practice problems they complete during the first portion of “at your seat” checked for accuracy by me. We use a 1-4 mastery scale in our district, so I assess their work on that scale consistently. I also have large lined post its on my clip board where I jot notes for small groups I would like to meet with in the coming days based on observations as I work around the room to support students during game play and task card work.

There are times when I am moving around the room working one-on-one and gathering data on my clipboard and other times when I am at the back table with a group introducing enrichment content or reteach support.

I hope this helps with creating a visual – the instagram story will probably be more helpful than anything. 🙂

Cheers!

Laura

Amy says

Did you post the Instagram story yet you mentioned in this reply? I’ve tried to find something that works in my classroom, both set groups and flex groups. I always find I want more time reteaching and less time meeting with my enrichment groups but I struggle with the organization of it all. I’ll be looking forward to reading more in your Instagram post. Thanks

Laura Santos says

Hi Amy,

Yes, it is up as a story right now. Go ahead and take a look and let me know if you have any additional questions.

Cheers!

Laura

Megan Shipman says

I am a 7th grade math teacher, and I am very interested in adapting your M.A.T.H. workshop to fit my classroom. It is very similar to Daily 3 framework that I have looked into. What do you do about homework? How do you assess/grade the work that students do in the rotations? Any help you could provide me would be greatly appreciated!

Laura Santos says

Hi Megan,

When it comes to homework, my students complete a set of problems that correlate with the content introduced in class that day. Homework is copied of the reverse side of the practice problems students complete in class (usually about 5-6 problems/day). The following day, students turn in homework, and I quickly check 2-3 problems that represent the skills practiced. I don’t grade homework because it is difficult to know if a student completed the work independently or with support, and if so, how much support.

As for assessing the work completed during their rotations – the technology rotation is automatically graded by the sites we use – IXL and Multiplication.com. The games are assessed via observation throughout the week (assessed on our district’s 1-4 mastery scale). At your seat practice begins with the practice problems mentioned earlier (which must be checked by me before being tucked away in the hw binder). The task cards students work on for the second portion of “at your seat” are turned in to our self assessment drawers (shown here) and then graded by me using our mastery rubric at the end of each week.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Warmly,

Laura