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.
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.
- 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!
- 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