So, since the first day of school, I have asked my students to be willing to try new things, to have a growth mindset, and that mistakes just prove you are trying. Now it was time to put myself to the test. I have been planning on trying a new approach in my classroom all summer long and it was finally the day to put it into place. After following all types of blogs and putting in quite a bit of thought, I have decided to try using math rotations in my classroom.
Throughout the summer, I have read anything I could get my hands on by Jennifer Findley and her use of math centers. She has some terrific ideas on implementing centers as well as all sorts of teacher resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers. I also found a fantastic blog called Math Tech Connections. This blog has an article called, "How to Plan & Organize Differentiated Math Groups." This was unbelievably helpful to getting my mind around how to get this to work.
So, here is my version. Basically it is a 5 day rotation. Ideally, I would like it to work on a Monday - Friday rotation, but with all of the interruptions that can occur during a school week, I have just decided to go with it and continually work through the five days as we can. Yesterday would be considered the first day of the rotation. On this day, we work as a whole group to take notes on concepts that students have either encountered on Think Through Math or I am anticipating will be encountered soon.
Today, was the first of three days of math centers. I have broken the class into 4 groups based on data I have gathered from use of the end of year 4th grade test and the Think Through Math placement test. These groups will be constantly changing as new data is introduced or mastery is being shown. I have two groups of students working below level, one on level, and one above level. Each group worked on a different activity based on these individual needs.
As we were focusing on factors, multiples, prime and composite numbers, these were the concepts found in the activities. Today I worked with students who were struggling in a small teacher led activity. I still want the activity to require problem solving and higher level thinking, so I used a "Time to Tile" activity that focuses on factors and multiples. My on-level group worked collaboratively on an activity titled "P.C.'s Ideal Job." This was from The Mailbox Magazine, Intermediate, Aug/Sept. 2003. It had the students working with prime and composite numbers. My above level group worked collaboratively on a prime numbers activity from the UIL Number Sense workbook.
There were only two math centers today, so I only worked with the first two groups. Here is how our rotation schedule looks:
For the fifth day of the rotation, my plan is to have it be a kind of wrap-up. We will spend time setting goals, completing a summative assessment for the week, and giving students a little time to design their Think Through Math avatar. This is a crucial piece as they have spent the past four days earning points to "spend" and they want a little time to design.