I am loving my math instruction this year and have been so eager to share my setup with you because this is the first year that I’ve actually been excited to teach math every day (as opposed to just those occasional fun lessons I always looked forward to each year). We do leveled math groups and I have the highest one, but this would easily work with the other levels too. You could also color-code centers of various levels to make this work in traditional heterogeneous math groups.
We swap students for an hour every day. We use Saxon math (not the biggest fan), so I start with the fact sheet. I leave it on the back table for students to pick up as they enter the room. Because it’s a timed test, students are eager to come in and get seated before I start the timer. I’ve found this to be a great management technique.
After our fact test, I move into our math mini lesson. Again, we use Saxon so this is picked out for me every day. With my high group, the lessons are often too easy so I make sure to extend them just a bit. My students enjoy the challenge and this should help get them ready for our state testing too.
After the lesson, I move into independent practice. I use the Saxon worksheets and most students are able to finish in 10 minutes or less. As students finish, they move away from their desks into cooperative centers. They usually end up with 30-40 minutes of center time every day.
I love this set-up because students can do the centers independently. This leaves me free to work with students who need additional instruction or help with the independent practice. After all students have finished independent work, I’m still free to roam centers or pull additional groups if needed (to make homework corrections, for example). I can promise you the hour flies now where it used to be the slowest hour of my day.
Because our Saxon program is so easy (we’re adopting this year and hoping for something a little more rigorous), I use my centers for the real meat of my math learning. But as I’m sure you know, creating/finding and assembling centers isn’t easy and I had to start pretty much from scratch this year. Some of my favorites are from Classroom Confections. I purchased Molly’s set to get us started and then have been adding new centers as I find them on TpT and teacher blogs. I like to mix in holiday-themed sets too.
I typically put together one or two centers each Sunday and rotate those in with existing centers. This way students have a few familiar centers and a few new centers each week. I also use our four classroom computers to play math games online (more on those soon). Now that our ipads are up and running, I’m able to mix in 6-8 of those too. This means I don’t need quite as many paper centers (thus less prep work!), but my students are still totally engaged.
Finally, I gave my multiplication cards and game boards a makeover with new clip art so they’d be more appealing to students. The bundled set has a stack of matching cards for all facts 1-12 and 2 game boards/bonus draw cards.
I also pulled out the x2 cards as a freebie for you. We use them for matching memory games, classroom scoot or scavenger hunts, and homework practice. They come in color and black and white, depending on your preference.
I’m working on finishing my matching coloring sheets and cleaning up my division cards too so I’ll have those ready for you soon. It‘s been a productive break so far, but that’s just the way I like it. =)