Monday, September 15, 2014

Introducing Math Centers and Differentiating Them

     We just began a new unit in math and I wanted to share with you how I am introducing my new math centers to my class. As a first year teacher, I actually thought I could just introduce each center quickly before center time and WAHLAH!-  instant implementation!   BAHAHAHAHA. Never again. If you are questioning how to begin introducing a math center/station to your class, hopefully this blog post will give you some ideas!

    Today, I introduced number 6 to my students and we worked on a whole group lesson that involved finding different ways to make 6.  If I had an unlimited amount of copies, I might have given every student in the class some linking cubes and a copy of the Let's Build 6 recording page. We would have supplemented our curriculum lesson with this activity and students would be able to easily complete the activity independently when they saw it again in centers. Since I don't have an unlimited number of copies - I introduced the activity using my overhead projector and fabulous new HoverCam SOLO 8 USB Document Camera! No words for how appreciative I am for this new technology!

I worked all the way through this activity with my students. As I completed the sheet,  I called on students to ask what to do / write next to make sure everyone was paying attention.

     Students will complete this activity independently in centers on Wednesday. Since this is the first time working with this activity, the students will work together. They will all share one cue card, but each student will build their own cube trains and fill out their own recording sheet. If you need to differentiate this activity it is simple - some students may need to ditch the recording sheet and just build cube trains to match the cue cards. More advanced students may need to ditch the cue cards and work to find ways to build 6 on their own and record their towers on the page.

     I have created this activity for numbers 5-10 and I have two different recording sheets for each number. Later in the year, students will choose a number to build and work independently on their own number. At this point, one student may be finding ways to build 7 while another student is recording ways to build 10. After I have introduced addition, students will see this activity in centers, but this time the recording sheet will read "___ + ___ = 6"  instead of "___ and ___ is 6."

     I also use small groups as a launch pad for center activities. My students will not use this activity in centers for some time, but I knew that some of my high kids were ready for it, so I introduced it as part of a small group enrichment activity today.

Notice how I ran copies off for each student in black and white? There was no need for each student to have a laminated color copy of our center activity to get a feel for it in small groups. I did, however, run off five more of these in black and white at the end of the day. I laminated those five, so that  I could use them as needed in small group. 

     If you are interested in these math centers, click on the picture below to check them out for yourself!

      (In case you are curious, I use GO Math! Common Core in my classroom and we are on Chapter 3, "Represent, Count, and Write Numbers 6 to 9." The math centers I introduced today are in NO way specific to the Go Math curriculum and are designed to meet the common core standards for composing and decomposing numbers.)

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