Saturday, February 16, 2013

Setting Up Your Math Centers

Recently, I posted about my independent math centers for Valentine's Day and decided that I would do a how to post for a quick start up to math centers. If you are interested in mixing a few math centers in while maintaining your regular, whole group teaching... then this post is for you! Last year, I did not use math centers in my classroom. I knew it was something that I wanted to implement, so of course I went to Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations: Independent Learning You Can Count On, K-2 for advice. I highly recommend it for anyone who has not yet read it. After reading the book several times, I met with my fabulous professional development coach and she helped me devise a plan that works best for my classroom. I was able to start disaster free math centers in my classroom 2 days after we met together!

How to Group Students
This was my first big issue. I knew that I wanted students to visit my teacher directed center in groups based on level. I also knew that grouping students based on level for independent centers was just not the best idea.  Eventually I decided I needed to take the teacher directed math center off of the math center rotation chart. Instead of students visiting a teacher directed station as part of the center rotation, I call students out of another center to work with me. The down side to this is that each student misses one independent work station, but my students have never complained and we revisit many stations throughout the year.

This is how I group my students:
1. Examine Think Link results, while keeping my knowledge of student understanding in mind.
2. Group students into four groups based on domain or even one particular standard. Groups are: High Group, Med High, Med Low, Low.  This is how students will visit me in my teacher directed center.
3. Mix students up into four groups for independent math centers. Since I have 16 students, I have four groups of four students.  I take one child from the high group, one child from med high, one child from med low, one child from low and I have an independent math center group!

How to Gather the Supplies:
Most likely, you already have everything that you need to set up your first math centers. In our first math centers my students used: 1. Picture books with math concepts 2. Numbers dry erase booklets 3. File folder games  4. Pattern bears for counting, making patterns, and sorting.
I use some containers I found in the kitchen area of  Dollar Tree for center storage.

   Since I was setting up my math centers in a hurry,  I made this very boring chart using materials I already had. I move the numbers for each center rotation. They are attached with velcro. The sentence strips are wipe and write so I write the names for the students on them with dry erase markers. 

 Hope this is helpful to some of you! Happy teaching!

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