Perhaps the hardest part of Math Workshop is the management of it. It took a long time for my students to get used to Math Workshop. They are not used to having such independence and responsibility. Every classroom is different. We all have different management strategies to begin with. This is what works in my classroom with my students. Change it to make it your own!
How are the Students Held Accountable? (Other than their inherent excitement of doing math and getting good grades)
My students turn in their Independent Work and Vocabulary every Friday. To keep parents updated, students staple a report in their agenda.
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Students write the topics that we talk about that week and then rank their understanding as a 3, 2, or 1. We use "thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs in the middle" constantly, so I tell them to think of it like that. I sign, they sign, and then their parents sign. Once we started doing this, students made double sure they were getting their work done. They knew that they were being held accountable on Friday. It also gave us a chance to talk about our weekly topics on Mondays when I pass these out.
How do I Ensure a Smooth Transition?
Some teachers just say "Switch." Others allow students to switch on their own when they finish the station. I cannot handle the chaos of either. So, when I'm ready I say "Clean up, Thumbs up in 10, 9, 8..." Groups have 10 seconds to clean up and give me a thumbs up to show me that they're ready. This is especially helpful for the games station, since usually it has the most to clean up. Once everyone has thumbs in the air, I say "Switch, seated and working in 5, 4, 3..."
How do I Keep the Students from Screaming at the Tops of Their Lungs?
I use a couple of ways to control noise level. Last year I posted about my Voice-o-Meter that we used for our intervention time (HERE). This year, I'm using that for Math Workshop. Each station is assigned a noise level and the students hold each other in their group accountable.
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I also use the TOO NOISY app on my iPhone. I project it to the class using my document camera. At first, it was a distraction. However, now that they're used to it, they only glance at it every once in a while. It's another way for the students to police themselves, because I often hear "Oh no! We're on red! SHHHHHHH." I use it throughout the day during science experiments and other group projects.
We're a PBIS School, How Can I Incorporate That?
Continue with your normal PBIS incentives. Keep a checklist by you to keep track of students who are on task. In addition, I choose a Top Secret Mathematician. At the beginning of each math class, I draw a popsicle stick. Throughout the period, I watch that person. If they remain on task, throughout the class, they receive an extra incentive. If one group is completely off task, I remind them that I'm watching my Top Secret Mathematician and instantly everyone in the classroom snaps back to shape. I LOVE IT!
Take the time to train your students. It will save you from the headache of stopping your Guided Math group to discipline and redirect the other students. Once the students are trained the way you want, the day runs smoooothly.
What secret management plans do you have? Any and all tips are welcome!