Monday, June 11, 2012

Welcoming Ms. Boyle from Great {First Grade} Expectations-Mathtastic Work Groups

First things first, can I just say I am THRILLED to be guest blogging at Wild About Teaching from my usual little spot at over at Great {First Grade} Expectations! I'm all about warm and friendly welcomes, so consider this my hug from North Carolina saying how excited I am to be sharing some info about how I run ship...the math the classroom!

True confession. Math was never my forte.

I do not mean to imply that I don't recognize the MAJOR importance of problem solving, formulas, and the like, but I truly remember the moment that I recognized I wasn't "good" at math, and it was all over for me. I like to blame my lack of personal enthusiasm for the subject on the way I was taught to memorize in grade school (which I could totally do!) and then I hit more advanced concepts where I was expected to understand the way the numbers and symbols worked with one another. When it came time to not just "know", but truly understand and apply, I was toast.

This is why I now love teaching math! I have adapted styles of guided math groups and Daily 5 Math to work specifically for the group of little ones I teach this year, and I have been amazed by their growth and mastery of understanding how numbers work!

My version of Daily 5 math operates under a 1 hour time block, and this session is jam packed! The basic structure goes like this:
  • 10 minutes: Whole group mini lesson to introduce concept of the day. We go for high energy, interactive lessons that keep their hands and minds busy!
  • 15 minutes: Rotation 1
  • 5 minutes: Check in
  • 15 minutes: Rotation 2
  • 5 minutes: Check in
  • 10 minutes: Wrap up lesson, Review of previously learned objective, or let's be honest...squeeze in one of the never-ending assessments that we are all required to hand out!
Ok. So that's the basic time outline I use, but of course this is easily adaptable based on how long you choose to make your mini lessons or number of rotations you are able to complete in a day! I really do recommend giving the full 5 minute "check in" time a try though because it is insane the quality of work my kiddos turn out in a short amount of time when they know I will devote a full minute or so on each small group while providing instant feedback (usually...PRAISE!) They love this time, and each little math brain is super motivated to not just get through their work, but to go above and beyond to show off their smart thinking!
math tubs
So my rotation labels are as follows:

Solve 2 Self: Think "Read to Self." I simply place whichever activity and materials in labeled tub and students in this group visit the bin and return to any place around the room where they can focus independently. Keep clipboards handy! I do admit...many times I will place assessments in this rotation so that I do not have to use precious instructional time delivering one of the bajillion required assessments while feeling like I'm wasting time walking aroudn the room. They can handle this independently...I PROMISE! It just takes a lot of training during the first quarter!

Foundational: This rotation is completed in pairs or small groups. Oftentimes students are using manipulates such as connecting cubes, shapes, dice, etc. to put to practice what we are currently working on in our guided math groups. This station is always a hit!

Writing: My favorite!! While I do enjoy teaching math now, writing is still holds a tender place in my heart<3 I have a variety of writing papers that require students to create their own story problems practicing a variety of different strategies to solve. Also, many times they will write response statements to observations we have made during whole group mini lessons. Think mini thesis papers about math, shapes, probability, graphing. So stinking smart...I'm always absolutely amazed!!

Fact Fluency: Yes, there is a time and place for memorizing! Do y'all sometimes struggle with explaining to non-teachers how memorizing multiplication facts is just not appropriate for the average first grader?! I mean...they are all special, not average, but's not doing them any favors! I know. I was a queen memorizer, and eventually it caught up to me when I didn't know what on earth the numbers and symbols meant! This is a sigh of relief for the adults who want to be able to do some sort of drill and practice at home! AFTER, the kids have proven to me they understand a concept we have learned, and practiced, and practiced some more...they may then memorize in this center! We use dice, number lines, modified flash cards, and memory games to build their fluency with manipulating numbers. It is important to be efficient after all!

Investigate: This rotation is for discovery! Students might go on a measurement hunt, look for
shapes in their classroom environment, or poll other members in their group to create a variety of graphs.

Daily 5 Math Smartboard
Lastly, it is important to recognize that one of the groups is working with the TEACHER! During both math rotations I am working with a small group on our classroom carpet or gathering place.

I have divided my class into three groups, and it is unlike Daily 5 in that my students don't choose the rotation they would like to visit. I use my Smart Board to move the group names to where they will be working. Then, they move as a collective group like a little gaggle of geese to their specified location. It's a grab-and-go of their tub of materials and we're off to learning!

Phew! I hope this is not too overwhelming or confusing! I adore questions though, and would be excited to see what y'all think! What approach do other teachers use when setting up math rotations?

Thanks again to the fabulous Lacey for allowing me to visit and guest blog on her adorable page this evening! You are always sharing such wonderful ideas, and it has been a privilege to share with you!

Happy Learning!


  1. Oh my gosh. I love love this idea! The possibilities. Thanks for sharing. I'm headed over to Ms. Boyle's blog right now.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

  2. What a great idea!! Where did you get the cute M-F boxes?


    Miss J

    Smiles, Crayons, and Endless Stories

  3. Thanks Kerri and Miss J! This structure has been a winner in my book, and will definitely be using it again with my next batch of students!

    P.S. The boxes were from the DOLLAR SECTION at Target!! Oh yes:)Then, I just printed out some labels to keep my teacher materials ready and at hand for each day.

    Great {First Grade} Expectations



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...