Essentials for Math Workshop

In thinking about tonight’s #talkmath chat re: math workshop, I wanted to share what I think are two essential components of math workshop and how we’ve used digital tools to support them.

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Students either love math or hate math. Some even say math is boring. But math isn’t boring, it’s just a language that is still foreign to them. The terms, symbols, and even written language is different than what we read or hear at home. I find that a math workshop should not be a silent one. I want to hear math chatter, kids going back and forth arguing over a problem, questioning each other, typing away, speaking in “math”. The goal is for our students to become literate mathematicians. How can we do this?

  • Have math activities or games that forces students to work together and engage in conversations
  • Use sentence stems and repeat them in mini-lessons, small groups, wherever you can. Create the math culture one line at a time!
  • Instead of a worksheet, provide only 3 problems and have students write out how their thinking process. Then, share.
  • Use exemplars or open-ended problems

How Technology Helps:

Technology offers so many possibilities for students to read, write, and talk about math! Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Put math problems in a basket and let students draw them one at a time. With their math partner (or independently), students use any video-making app to show their work and talk out loud to explain every step of their thinking process. Export videos to Dropbox, Googledocs, or even a digital board like Padlet or Linoit.

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  • Post two or three math problems on a digital board (Padlet, Lino, Popplet) or a social learning network (Kidblog, Edmodo, Pinterest, etc..). Students type out their strategies for solving the problem by writing it as a post or commenting under the math problem. In doing so, they are able to read strategies tried by classmates. Maybe someone else’s strategy was more efficient!

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  • Use Book Creator to create iNotebooks as a center. Let students create pages to show their understanding of a mini-lesson. They can create videos, audios, visuals, or just write. They are using language to create personalized notebooks.




Math has a purpose only when we give it a purpose. Practice worksheets are not a purpose. Yes, it’s hard to always relate it to the real world but as much as possible, make math real. Make math part of life.

  • Write 2-3 word problems that really relate to issues students their age deal with. One good word problem is worth ten bad math problems. It will stick in their minds.
  • Design real-life math activities rather than isolated problems. For example, fractions and baking for class party, estimation and purchasing a dog Christmas basket, perimeter/area and building a class bookshelf. Often times, it will spiral in other math concepts.

How Technology Helps:

  • Type out 3-4 math problems that require students to gather information from real-life apps we use everyday. Not only will students find purpose for math, they are learning useful skills and useful life tools. Here’s a list of some apps and math concept ideas. You probably will come up with even better ideas!

ESPN Scorecenter – decimals

Weather Channel – temperature, mean, median, mode, range, graphing

Google Maps – elapsed time, measurement

Amazon – rounding, decimals, percents

Clock/Timer – statistics, graphing, elapsed time

Zillow/Realtor – place value, comparing large numbers

All Recipes – fractions, ratios

Stubhub – decimals, multiplying decimals

Yelp – average (ratings), decimals (distance)

McDonald’s App (has nutritional facts) – any numbers & operations, metric conversions, percents, comparing numbers, round

Living Social – ratios, percents, multiplication

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