Thursday, April 4, 2013

Getting started with Guided Math (Math Workshop)

Back in October, our district math supervisor held a workshop introducing guided math (also called math workshop). From about 3 minutes in, I knew I wanted to start this in my classroom right away. My district uses EnVision by Pearson as our math program resource, which I do think is a great program and very aligned to Common Core. Since I am new to my district this year, I had been really careful to make sure I was teaching math in the same way the other 3rd grade teachers were, but once our supervisor recommended guided math - I knew it was perfect for me and my class. I later attended a 2 day workshop to learn more about guided math and have been using it in my classroom ever since. Today, I thought I'd share how I went about organizing my stations and the flow of our math block and then another day I'll write about managing guided math.

Our Math block is a full hour long and I've divided it into four parts.

15 minutes
Whole group lesson. This is our time for introducing a new skill and practicing it together.

20 minutes
Guided Math stations. I have four stations, one of which is a station that meets with me. I only meet with one group a day but we get very in-depth into the topics we are discussing throughout the week. I am able to add some enrichment activities for the students who are more advanced and target the needs of those students who are struggling.

15 minutes
Independent Practice. This is an on-your-own time where my students work independently to practice the skill of the day. Sometimes I take this time to circulate the room and work one-on-one with students. If (from my observations during whole group or the first few minutes of independent practice) I think a group of students is having trouble with the skill, I will pull a second group to the back table in my classroom to get some extra practice while working with me.

5 minutes 
Closure and discussion. Sometimes I will do a ticket out the door or a brief game like multiplication around the world.

*Note that these times only add up to 55 minutes. No one is perfect and undoubtedly 1 section will run over every day.

Now let's talk about those math stations. This year I am using the four that were recommended to me during my workshop but I've already decided to make a few tweaks for next year. I have 4 stations and the students just go to one station each day. By the end of the week they have been to all 4. This works really nicely if there is a test or assembly because we can still make it to all four. On a typical 5 day week, the students will go to one of the centers twice. I try to organize this so one of my groups that really needs extra help will end up meeting with me twice. I've seen guided math done where the kids rotate through several centers a day but I find when I've done this in the past I felt like my rotations were too short to delve deeply into the topic and my last group was inevitably rushed for time constraints.

My four math stations are:

M -  Math fact practice. Here the students use flash cards, beat the clock games, matching, or go to websites such as or to practice their basic math facts.

A -  At your seat math journals. In this station, the students glue the weekly problem solving prompt into their math journals and then work to solve it with a partner. They turn their problem solving journal into me to check and I will journal back to them, noting things they did very well and things they maybe overlooked and can try next time to successfully solve the problem.

T - Teacher's Group. This group meets with me to work on the topics we'll be discussing throughout the week.

H - Hands-on Learning. In this center, students play math practice games with a partner. There are some cute games that came with our math program and I've made dozens and dozens of file folder games that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

My kids just love that the stations spell out math! I have loved using this model - especially having that designated time to devote to each small group. I also have noticed my students' thinking evolve through their problem solving journals. There really is never enough time to devote to problem solving - especially in my current math program - so this model is so helpful with that.

This is just an overview of getting started for those of you who may not know much about guided math. I'll post more about managing on another day as well as changes I plan to make going forward.

Have you tried guided math / math workshop in your room? What do you do that is the same or different than me?


  1. Hi there! Found you on Pinterest and I'm your newest follower!! I use workshop model for everything ad have talked about it on my blog- and even host a Workshop Wednesday linky each week! I'd love you to come check it out! :)
    ideas by jivey

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  3. Can you share where you get your math journal prompts for "A"?