Taking a Risk: Attempting Math Workshop in a Middle School

Over the summer I've had a great time linking up with fellow bloggers and writing and tweeting about a PD book that I read call Minds on Mathematics.  This book by Wendy Ward-Hoffer helps to give background and a minds set to using a math workshop format in middle level grades.  After reading this book, and participating in twitter chats about the topic, I've decided to take the plunge and try using more of a math workshop format in my classroom.. <insert that deer in the headlights look here>

My fear is that I only have 42 minutes a day to teach math, and the curriculum that I have to cover is TOUGH, DEMANDING, and full of RIGOR.  I mean really people, teaching eleven year olds who still go home and play outside or with their legos about measures of center, variation and the variability of the shape of the data.. come on!  But, the powers that be said I must, so I must.

Our school district uses a digital math program called DIGITS from Pearson.  Luckily, a lot is included in this program.  For example, homework can be done online.  Students are provided with a ton of help, examples and can work through problems step by step until they achieve mastery.  They can also redo homework as many times as they want to get a perfect score.  I have the ability to log into the program in the morning during a planning period and see who did not complete HW or who did poorly.  These are students I would then have the ability to have conference time with during our math workshop time.
DIGITS also provides a launch segment with every lesson.  Last year, I was so overwelmed with learning a new program as well as new CCSS that I often skipped the launches.  This year, I can use the launch at times as a hook to access background knowledge and get my students talking about math.

Next comes the mini-lesson.  I've got that one covered too.  This is when we will use our interactive notebook to take notes, create foldables, or example problems.

Part 3 is Work Time.  THIS my friends is the kicker for me.  I watched this great video about how a teacher uses this worktime and the math workshop model.

6th Grade Mathematics - Workshop Model Best Practices from Scholars' Academy on Vimeo.

I'm curious however, about the work that students are doing during Work Time.  I want to create authentic tasks for my students to do, not turn to worksheets.  Time also is a factor.  I don't want students sitting idol when tasks are completed, nor do I want to make up tasks to fill busy time.

I did create these Conversation Cards, which I think will really help foster "Math Speak" during Work Time and Reflection.  You can pick them up {HERE} for FREE if you would like to use them.

Anyone have any thoughts on how they fit in their work time?  I can't really create stations because the number of benchmarks covered is too large to spend too much time on one area.  Literally I could teach a benchmark a day and be lucky to complete them all... not that they are mastering one benchmark a day.. <hee hee>  I'd love to hear where people are going with math workshop time.

A bloggy friend of mine, Jivey at Ideas by Jivey has a linky every Wednesday about all things related to Reading, Writing or Math workshop.  Stop by and visit her blog to read what others are doing with workshops too!


  1. Risks are great! I'm doing Math Workshop with fifth graders and we love it! It's taken a few years to get it running semi-smoothly and I'm still no expert by any means. It's hard giving up the "teacher talk" time but so worth it in the end. I love the video you posted. Thanks!

    Wild About Fifth Grade

  2. Thanks for sharing that great video! I think the "Math is Real Life" link will be really helpful for creating authentic tasks. Your kids are going to love it!
    Grade 4 Buzz

  3. I love your conversation cards! :) thanks for linking up, friend! :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  4. Oh Good Luck.....let me know how it all goes down!

  5. Take five...(I hate commenting with my iPad).
    Here is what I did when I had a shorter math period...with times adjusted to your schedule.
    *10min mini-lesson
    *22-32min independent work time, when you conference or pull small groups
    *(0)5-10min share time/math response journal/exit slip (yay for formative assessment)

    If you have any questions or want more information about any of this, feel free to contact me:

  6. Thanks for sharing the video. I've already shared it with several of the math teachers on my campus. Good luck!



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