Friday, August 11, 2017

New school, new blog title, new #GuidedMath

I just recently found out I'm being moved from the middle school to the high school. Lots of mixed emotions, but after 7 years in the middle school I'm looking forward to this new chapter and challenge in my career. With that said, I thought my blog needed a new title. Last year my posts had gotten away from the "techy" theme, focusing more on the math, and now with the move to the high school, "Tech Adventures in a Middle School Math Class" just doesn't fit anymore. So welcome to "Adventures in Algebra"!!

I've spent most of my summer, besides teaching summer school, working on setting up guided math workstations. I participated in a book study and slow Twitter chat on Guided Math Workshop with the authors Donna Boucher and Laney Sammons, and many other great math teachers, mainly in the K-5 range, but I guess I'm being somewhat of a pioneer in the secondary level.

In the book study I saw a lot of different ways to set up and run the workstations. I'm sure I'll be tweaking this set up a bit once I see it in action, but so far this is what I'm planning:

Workstation 1 is small group time with me. And when I say "small" I mean SMALL! I have small class sizes to begin with since I teach resource classes. My three groups will be 2-4 students only (homogeneously grouped), so I'm looking forward to using this time to be able to truly differentiate their learning. No more whole group lessons where I lose half the class's attention. Most of my students have attention issues to begin with, so it's really difficult for them to maintain focus in such a large group. Being almost one-to-one with me should really help, and being able to teach them on their level will be so much easier in this homogeneous group setting. All 3 groups will get the same content, just at different levels.

Workstation 2 is where the students will go after meeting with me to do their independent work related to the lesson they just had.

Workstation 3 will be a spiral review station. There are 6 different boxes for them to choose from, each with a theme and at least 4 different tasks. Each task is in a gallon ziplock bag with a task card (on cardstock) that has complete directions, extra copies of the worksheet if they do not want to complete it digitally, and any cards, dice, spinners, etc that are needed for the task. Tasks are activities like games to play with a partner (content related of course!), puzzles, mazes, iPad apps to work on, Versatiles, or the occasional traditional worksheet.

I think my students will enjoy having the freedom to chose what they work on. There will be a worksheet to track what tasks they have completed and I will require them to do the first 2 from each box before continuing on in that box to ensure that they are getting to work in every area. On the task sheet they will also be self-evaluating their understanding of the content to help me find out what they need more assistance with during workshop conference time. Most tasks also have accountability built in -- student will be turning in their work to Google Classroom. Students will open the work in Google Classroom on the iPads where they can annotate on them (this is something I just discovered - on the iPads in Classroom you can annotate, but not on our Chromebooks yet) and turn the work in digitally. Some tasks require them to take a picture of their work and turn the photo into Classroom.

progress tracking sheet
task card
annotate task in Classroom

Workstation 4 is more of a basic skills / number sense station. Students will be working on things like the 4 basic operations, place value, order of operations, rounding, substitution, time, and money - all things that freshmen should know but sadly don't.

Students will rotate through the centers each day. Since I'm now at the high school I have 75 minute blocks every other day instead of the 50 minute blocks I had at the middle school every day. Since I will only see my students every other day I want to make sure I get in a small group lesson with every group each day I see them, and I also want them to be able to get to workstation 2 for the independent work as a follow up to the small group instruction. So I have to work out a schedule where this will be able to happen. I'm thinking that they won't always do workstation 3 and 4 in the same day, it will be one or the other along with the first 2 workstations. I will start class with about 10 minutes of a "Do Now" activity aimed at number sense, then we'll have about 15 minutes per station, and the last 20 minutes will be spent finishing up work and I will have time to conference individually with students as well. I'm sure this will need a lot of adjusting to make it work!

Setting up the workstations has taken a considerable amount of time (and I'm not done yet!). I wanted to be sure they were meaningful activities. I also needed to make sure they could understand what to do fairly independently so they aren't interrupting my small group instruction to ask questions. And I wanted them to have a variety of types of activities so they are not too boring. One other thing I considered is the "reusability" factor (not sure if that's even a word?). I tried to include a few tasks in each box that were unique each time they were used, for instance by using number cards or dice to create the numbers in the problems so that each time they have different problems to work on even if they end up doing the same task twice. My hope is not to have to constantly be creating new tasks throughout the year. I'm hoping the tasks I've set up will take us through most of the school year.

I would love to hear from anyone doing Guided Math Workstations with middle school or high school classes. Please comment below or send me an email and we can compare notes and maybe share some resources too!