What Does My Math Block Look Like?

I've had several people ask me how I run my Math Block in my classroom, so I thought I would write a post describing what I do and some of the resources that I use in my block. I've taken quite a few different ideas and put them together to find what works for me. 

Before I get started describing what goes on in my classroom for Math, I wanted to mention a book that has helped me so much in developing my math teaching style. Guided Math in Action: Building Each Student's Mathematical Proficiency with Small-Group Instruction has been such a huge help. I've gotten so many great ideas from this book. This summer I will be hosting a book study with this book here on the blog and I would love to have anyone who wants to read this book join me. I am aiming to start at the end of June and try and do a chapter every week and a half or so. 

SOL Prep Time 

Occurence: Everyday

We start our math block each day by spending about 25 minutes focusing on SOL practice questions and really taking them apart. We closely read the directions before we start and discuss what the question is asking us. Then I have each student solve the problem on their whiteboards as I walk around and look at their work and answer. Once every student has attempted the question, we discuss in detail what strategy should be used to answer the question and the steps needed to figure out the answer. We do five questions like this a day and use a program created Lisa Meyers that my school purchased. This time each day has really helped my students stop and think before answering a question and helped them in their problem solving and planning skills in not just math but also for reading.

Math Warm-Up

Occurence: Everyday

After we do our SOL prep, we officially start our daily math block with a set of Math Warmup Problems. The students get 10 minutes to complete 4 Spiral Review questions in their Math Notebooks. We are currently using questions made by my district, but I am currently working on developing my own math warmup to better meet my students needs for next school year. When the ten minutes are up, my students and I go over the questions and their answers together before diving into our Math Lesson for the day.

Mini Lesson
Occurence: Everyday

No matter what kind of plans I have (centers, interactive notebook, independent or partner work), we always have a mini lesson before we get into the details. The way I run my mini lessons is by presenting the skill, modeling the skill and then practicing the skill with the students. We typically do three practice problems: one where I am modeling and they are following my lead, a second where they discuss strategies to solve the problem with an elbow partner and a third one where they are doing the problem on their own, typically on a whiteboard. When we finish this routine, we typically move on to the rest of the work for the day, unless more than 4 students don't have a grasp on the concept.

Interactive Notebooks
Occurence: One or two days a week

I loving using Interactive Notebooks in my classroom! About half of my classroom population is made up of ESOL students, so having something to touch and interactive is a huge plus for them. They love doing hands on projects where they are learning a skill from making something on their own. The interactive notebooks I use in my classroom for Math as well as Social Studies and Science are created by Glitter in Third . They are fantastic and my kiddos love them. For my class they are great because they are already aligned to the VA's SOL's so they cover everything I need. I purchased the bundle for the year that can be found here or you can purchase each topic separately as well. I prefer to give my students the outline versions of the notes, so they are filling in the blanks as we go. I do also stress with them to take pride in their notebooks and put some work into them. I give them some time when we are working on them to decorate and make it their own, but my students often take them home for night after we add to them to work on them even more. At the end of a unit, I collect them and review them and give a small grade based on the effort put into the notebook.

Center Rotations
Occurrence: Two Days a Week.

I try to do centers with what I am teaching at least one time a week, which means two days. When we do center rotations, it typically comes after we have introduced a concept, had a mini lesson about it and have already added information about it to our notebooks. On Center Days, I give a review mini lesson  before we break into the center. We do five center rotations over two days where we are doing two centers the first day and three the second day. Each rotation lasts 15 minutes. I use the center rotation wheel from Fuel the Brain. My students are grouped into five groups, based on their math level and ability. I currently have two groups of above grade level students that have five students in each, one group of on grade level students that has 4 students and 2 groups of struggling students with 4 students in each group. Now here is the break down of each of my centers:

Teacher Table: 
At my table I work with the students on their level of understanding to dive deeper into new content has already been introduced as a whole group activity or lesson, or to introduce an entirely new concept. When I meet with my two lower groups, we start by reviewing needed skills for the new concept we are going to practice. With my on-grade level group we start with the new concept and work on 4 or 5 problems together, before I monitor the students working out problems on their own and remediate with any students who still do not understand the concept.  For my higher groups, I model one or two examples for them and then they work on their own while I monitor to make such their is a full understanding of the needed skill or concept.

Computer Center:
At this center, the students work on reviewing and improving different math skills through different computer programs. Currently my students are focusing on practicing the TEI (Technology Enhanced Questions) style questions that will be found on the SOL's taken on the computers by reviewing previously taught content at Interactive Assessment. During computer centers we also regularly use IXL and Sum Dog. My kids really enjoy seeing the math skills they already know shown in fun video games that they can actually have fun playing and practicing at the same time. I am also working on introducing my students to the site Math Prodigy that The Friendly Teacher recently blogged about. It looks like something my kids will really enjoy using during center or free time.

Task Cards:
This is the center that I use as a constant spiral review with my students all year long during instructional time. After every test that we take I analyze the data and come up with a list of skills that still need remediation and additional practice and then develop task cards based on those skills for the students to continue working with. Currently we are focusing test prep in our task card center and I have been using these task cards. They cover every concept that my students will have to know in May for our testing and let them practice the skills in a fun way. They were a fantastic deal too!

Math with Someone:
At the math with someone center, my students work together to either practice the skill we are currently learning or view a recently taught skill. This is a game based center where the students are learning through a fun partner game that gives them time to talk about how to solve the math skills and creates an environment for meaningful math conversations. At this center I typically have been using Toss and Talk Games or Glitter in Third's math center games bundle found here.

Math by Self
This is the center that I use to do constant mini assessments of how my students are doing with each new skill or concept that we learn. This center always has a worksheet that covers what we are currently learning in Math. The students know that they need to be working at their desks the whole time and that it's ok if they don't finish every question as long as they put in an honest effort and were focused and working the entire time.

The way I start my rotations is by having my second lowest group meet at my table first and the lowest group at task cards first, so they are not learning new skills at the center first and then they come to my table in the second rotation. My highest group starts with Math by Self.

Review Games/Scoots
Occurence: One or two times per unit

When it comes time to review for a unit test, I typically develop a team review game or a scoot to review based on the needs of my students and what topics we cover. If I choose to do a game, I develop a series of questions to project on the smart board and then break my students into two teams. One student from each time goes up to the board to solve the problem. The first student to get it right receives a point for that question, but as long as the other student also answers the question correctly, they both get to shoot a basket for up to three points depending on how far away they stand from the basket.

When we do scoots, I develop a set of question cards to hang up around the room. Depending on the difficulty of the unit and how long it takes to answer a question, I typically make 18-24 questions for the scoot. I hang the cards up all over my classroom for the students to find, and then they have about 45 minutes to complete the scoot. The students work independently to solve each card and are not allowed to talk to anyone else in the classroom while working. I collect their recording sheets at the end to assess if they are ready for the unit test or if we need to have an additional review before the test. I am currently working on creating Scoots for the entire year to cover all VA SOL standards. You can find my bundle here. It is a great deal and you will receive all future updates to the bundle free every time I add new product to it, so take advantage of the amazing low price right now!

So, that is primarily what Math looks like most days in my classroom. The only time it doesn't is if we are in a Math Project mode and then we switch it up and have a project zone that we are working and collaborating together on fun projects.

Thanks for reading about my Math Block and hopefully I gave you some ideas that you might be able to use as well!

1 comment

  1. I am going to look into that book guided math in action


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