Guided Math Workshop Routines

Guided Math Workshop was a new structure that came about as I was leaving the classroom for my mommy break.  Why the change in my math block time?  I loved the focus we had on problem solving before, but it was hard for me to feel like I could conference with all of my kids.  I also struggled with the need to do small group instruction, but not having a framework for managing that.

And lastly, I needed more balance between kid-guided problem solving and direct instruction.  So Guided Math Workshop was born.  Here's a look at what a week of guided math workshop looks like now!


On Mondays, we introduce the goal for the week through a mini-lesson.  Sometimes, we read a book, sometimes we watch a video, and sometimes we work through some digital slides with some discussion together.  I spend about 15-30 minutes on this, depending on the activity.  Here is one of our mini-lessons from when we practice drawing shapes with specific attributes with a personal favorite, The Greedy Triangle!

Then, we do a brain break video that relates to our goal for the week.

After our blood is flowing again, we have some kind of math talk that ties to the goal for the week.  This is my chance to model math notation and how to show our thinking during problem solving time.  It also gives my kids a chance to hear strategies from the whole class.  Here's a math talk we did on the dry erase board brainstorming ways to regroup.

And here's another math talk we did using the riddles from The Grapes of Math.

After our math talk, I introduce the hands-on game that the kids will play with partners during the week.  We play the game as a whole group so that I can teach them the game and model how to fill out the response sheet.  And then we are ready for the rest of the week!

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays look exactly the same.  This is perfect because if we have a four day week, we can just have 2 days of this rotation schedule instead of 3 and not much is taken away from the math instruction except for more practice time! :)  Here's the routine for these three "rotation" days.

Launch Math Mysteries

For the first 5-10 minutes, we launch the story problem the kids will work on independently for the day.  I edit the launch slide in our rotation slideshow and pull it up during our launch.  We review our goal for the week, read the problem, and we talk about what we know about the story problem and what we are trying to figure out.  The launch is short and sweet, because I want to give kids time to work on the problem and figure it out on their own.  

Then, we continue the rotation board.  This is a timed powerpoint presentation that shows kids exactly where to go. Once I move to this slide, the chimes will sound and the rotations begin.  It will give kids 15 minutes to work on their first rotation.  At the end of 15 minutes, the chimes will sound again and go to the next slide which shows the kids where to move to next.  The names and even the time is completely editable and found in my plans for 1st grade or for 2nd grade.

**NOTE: Yes, I know this doesn't spell math.  Long story short, sometimes the rotations are out of order to make sure each group gets to every station when they need to get to it.  Want the long story?  The very detailed explanation and directions are included in the plans.**

Let's take a closer look at each of the rotations!

M: Meet With Me

During this rotation, kids come back to my small group table.  For *most* kids, this rotation comes immediately after their at my seat time where they have been working on solving the problem.  We use this time to share our strategies with kids who are in similar places in their problem solving skills.  I can use this time to extend or give extra support to these kids and model notation that specifically applies to certain kids.

For my lower babies, they come meet with me first.  Why?  Because most of them are unable to get started independently and need extra support.  So, during their meet with me time, we might act out the story problem or even work through the first level of problems.  By the end of this 15 minutes, these struggling mathematicians are ready to finish solving the rest of the problems independently and they will move straight to At My Seat next.

A: At My Seat

During this rotation, kids work on independently solving all 4 levels of the story problem.  This is a quiet and independent working time for these kids at their seat.  Remember, the low kids have just come from meeting with me for extra support before they start.  And the rest of the groups will be coming to meet with me after this to share their strategies.

T: Technology

During this rotation, kids work on our goal for the week on a device.  I have used websites like dreambox, I-Ready, starfall and abcya.  With my 2nd grader at home this year, I am using these fluency Google Slides assignments.

H: Hands-On

During this rotation, kids play the game we modeled together on Monday.  Some games I play take longer and will take the whole week to finish playing.  With other games, I have the kids use a different version each day (like a new tic tac toe board).  Most games are designed to play with partners, but some can be independent.  This is the only station where kids might be talking/whispering.  So, in general, rotation time is pretty quiet except for your hands-on kids and the kids at your table! :)


After the last rotation, we get back together and reflect.  This is my time to talk about what worked (with the math and with behavior, etc) and what didn't.  It's also a chance for me to address any common problems I saw with the problem solving that day or strategies that I want everyone to see.  But, mostly, this time is more like a class meeting about our math time!


Fridays are non-rotation days! We start off working through our spiral review of grade level math skills with our digital math wall time.

Then, we work on counting collections.  You can read about those routines here, but it's one of my favorites!  

Sometimes, later in the year, I start doing counting collections every other week and fact fluency practice on the off weeks where we practice our math facts.  (Read those routines here!)

If we have time, we do another share time at the end of the day where we share counting or fact fluency strategies, or any other things we need to discuss with our goal for the week!

You can find these detailed plans and materials for 1st and 2nd grade guided math workshop below.

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