Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Super Math Centers Link Up

Do you use math centers in your classroom? If not, maybe you have some of the concerns I felt before I tried them. Frankly, I was intimidated at the thought of having to create center games and materials. I also envisioned a level of chaos I knew I couldn't tolerate in my classroom. Finally, I was so busy planning for my whole group and cooperative learning math lessons that I couldn't figure out how to add math centers to the mix.

Then one day I attended a workshop on implementing math centers, and within an hour I was hooked! I had several big "ah-ha" moments at that workshop:

  • Without using centers, I wasn't truly differentiating math instruction. Yes, I was actively engaging my students with hands-on activities and cooperative learning lessons. However, my struggling students weren't getting extra help and my gifted students weren't really being challenged. 
  • Math center activities don't have to be elaborate, expensive, or time-consuming. Math A math center can be as simple as a packet of directions and materials. Students take the packet to their desks or to a spot on a rug and work alone or with a partner. That's it!  
  • The secret to super math centers is organization! I also learned the importance of establishing procedures and making sure students knew what was expected of them. I realized that I needed to learn how to create math center activities, how to store materials, how to have students record their work, what assignments to grade, and so on.  

Baby Steps with Math Centers
So in typical fashion, I did a little planning and then jumped right in! Because I was teaching upper elementary students, I chose to use the term "math stations," but I now use the terms "stations" and "centers" interchangeably. Taking baby steps with the concept, I created some simple math games and developed the storage system you see on the right. It's nothing more than a sweater organizer with center materials on each shelf. I divided my math class in half - 30 minutes for whole group instruction (using cooperative learning) and 30 minutes of math centers. In general, students worked on the activities in pairs which left me free to teach a small group or work one-on-one with students who needed extra help. 

What happened next amazed me! Instead of creating chaos in the classroom as I had imagined. I discovered that centers helped my students become even more focused on math instruction! They enjoyed the social aspects of working together and helping each other, and it was obvious that they were very much on task and learning. Students who had been frustrated and discouraged in math suddenly became relaxed and confident. 

It took some time for me to figure out the best way to organize and manage math centers, so I created a page called Math Centers and Stations on Teaching Resources to share these ideas.You can also find free math center games on that page as well as on this blog. Lately I've discovered that many other teachers have great resources for math centers, so I created the Link Up below as a place where others can share ideas. I hope you enjoy these resources!



21 comments:

  1. Wow! I am wanting to dabble in math centers next year. I can not wait to really explore your site this summer. If you get a chance, stop by my site: http://mrsbsbest.blogspot.com/

    I am your newest follower!

    Thanks
    Mrs. B

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  2. Im would love to link up but Im struggling with the link back to the site. Help please! My post is here http://teachmoment.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/maths-groups-2b-style.html
    Brooke
    b_beynon@hotmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Brooke, I tried to add your link and it wouldn't work for me. Then I looked at your backlink and found the problem. You must live in another country because the blogspot address includes "ca" maybe for Canada. You'll need to change the link and use this one exactly: http://corkboardconnections.blogspot.com/2012/04/super-math-centers-link-up.html

      Use that link or copy the code that I gave you in the blog post, then resubmit your blog post, and it should work.

      I'm emailing you this information, but I wanted to post it here in case anyone else is having trouble.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Laura! Joining you from Australia :)

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    3. Great! I see you got it to work. Wonder why the blogspot address included "ca"? I just assumed it was an extension for Canada!

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  3. Just what I was looking for. I will be moving to 3rd grade next year after teaching 4th grade language arts and social studies for 16 years...It's been a loooong time since I taught math, but I do want to incorporate work stations. Thanks for giving me a place to start.
    Nancy

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! This is a great place to start with so many blog posts linked up!

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  4. What a GREAT idea!!! This is the first year I've attempted math stations and had them actually work! This linky is a great resource!!! Thanks for hosting!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Math stations are a lot of fun and very effective!

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  6. If you are searching for a math tutor for your child, you should know how important it is for your child to understand math. No matter what grade your child is in, there is math help for him or her.


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  7. Thanks for this information! I am using the balanced math approach and am really looking to enhance my math centers!

    If you get a chance, check out my "manly" kindergarten blog!

    Greg
    Www.kindergartensmorgasboard.blogspot.com

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  8. Can't wait to get started with some of these center! Thanks Laura for doing this.

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  9. Thank you for all of the resources. I have been implementing literacy stations (guided reading) for the last 3 years, however this upcoming year I will be teaching only math and science. I have been spending this summer trying to establish math centers and organization is definitely key for me, so all the different ideas and resources here will come in VERY handy.

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  12. I'll start off with homeschooling soon. My two kiddos are ADHD, they can't stay so much with the same activity and I was looking for ideas to set up a math center for them. Thanks for the post!! I'll explore all your site. New follower here!

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  13. I tried to look at your math centers and stations on teachers resources and I can't get to it. Any suggestions? I really want to do this for my class but need a push and LOTS of help! Thanks!

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    1. What's wrong? Why can't you get to it? The link worked for me.

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