Friday, August 2, 2013

Math Work Stations

My mood: 
Debbie Diller Delight!
Math Work Stations
I just finished reading this book and had that WOWZA epiphany!  Finally!  I can see how this can work for me! YAY!!!  So let me share some new learning with you.  I have a few years of Daily 5 under my belt and tried dabbling last year in Daily 5 Math.  Time became an issue, or a lack there of, and the management piece of D5 Math did not operate as smoothly.  Insert "Math Work Stations" by Debbie Diller.  This woman is so smart!  I instantly realized that the big picture she was painting for me was in the form of partnerships.  My Daily 5 Math groupings were just too big and that was the problem last year. Creating meaningful partnerships for each station is the key to my success here.  That means,
Two is a party, Three is a crowd.  
Can I get an AMEN on that!
Now, I have 26 first graders and thinking about how to organize 13 partnerships seemed daunting at first but then again, I am in a Debbie Diller state of mind so the clarity is becoming crystal clear!  
This year, after the launch of Daily 5 for Literacy is underway, I will launch Math Work Stations.  One new station per day.  The modeling, rule enforcement, demonstrating positive and negative behaviors will stay consistent.  Debbie has a "one and done" policy that I just adore!  Johnny throws something, he's done for that round.  He sits with me and my guided math group quietly.  During that time, he will draw what he SHOULD be doing during the NEXT round of math stations.  

Debbie also suggests adding "Math Talk" cards to each station for "Expanding Math Vocabulary."  Genius!  We use all kinds of outlines for our littles when we read and write.... Why not for math too?  I am going to use her idea of 4 x 6 index cards and create a  speech bubble that includes the phrases and words I want the kids using when having their "math talk" during each rotation.  (Perfect time to hit those hefty CCSS!)

Another fabulous point of interest is her "I Can" checklist that she creates WITH the kids for each station.  Just like in Daily 5, students are expected to WORK the entire time on a list of objectives that are included at each station. She tapes the list to the underside lid of each container.  Now, students have a visual to-do list of what needs to be accomplished within that rotation.  This is a great way to eliminate fast finishers!  There is always multiple variations to activities so students stay on task the entire time.

I am thinking that this year I will have 15 minutes for a whole-group mini-lesson, followed by two (20 minute) rotations of Math Work Stations.  Each rotation will transition with bells and chimes (just like Daily 5) for starting and ending.  We will finish up each rotation with a check in and share time.

This year, in light of all my exciting changes, my math focus board will not look like a Math Daily 5 board.  It will mimic Debbie Diller's Math Stations management board instead.  The easy part is taking the 5 components of Math Daily 5 and incorporating them into the Work Stations!  Again, I really LOVE the idea of partnerships verses small groups. 
  Once all 13 stations are up and running smoothly, I will start pulling guided math groups, 4 students at a time.  Now Debbie suggests waiting at least 4-6 weeks to make sure the work stations are 100% fully independent and functional.  

The Math Stations Rotation Board will look something like this:  (And I promise to take photos as soon as I get back to school!)  Not sure if I am going Pocket Chart style or anchor wall......
I love how Debbie adds photos of the students so I am doing that too!  
What will my 13 stations include for the start up this year?
Station #1  Computer/iPad
Station #2  Math Writing  (stamp, draw, write, numerals)
Station #3  Graphing
Station #4  Number Sense (# of the Day)
Station #5  Fact Fluency: Math Game: Go Fish 
Station #6  Math Writing (problem of the day-prompt in journal)
Station #7  Fact Fluency: Math Game:  Chutes and Ladders
Station #8  Art with Tangrams
Station #9  Fact Fluency: Math Game:  Dice
Station #10 Math Game:  Seuss Matching
Station #11  Number Sense 
Station #12  Math Game: Hi Ho Cheerio 
Station #13  Math Reading (picture book and activity)

I thought it would be important to start the year with a solid understanding of how to play games cooperatively.  It is also important to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS and play fair so this will be a great beginning to building those social skills too! 
Once we are underway,
I will start adding new CCSS related activities to the stations that are aligned with our math series.  As I introduce new concepts, new materials will be added to the stations and the "Math Games" will become one station in and of itself.   In her book, Debbie provides more than 15 station activities for each common core area!  Can you believe it?  Debbie has done the work for us folks. I plan on following her station ideas throughout the entire year.  I love the notion of creating the elements of Choice, Change and Challenge using materials that do not have to be changed out every week.  

It's funny that before reading this book, I assumed and imagined a station was just like a center...  a rooted "spot in the room" where a group of students mingled on a  project.  Debbie Diller would shake her NO WAY JOSE' finger at you and say her "Work Stations" are WORKing cells of partnerships within the classroom: little mathematicians buzzing with math talk!
   Ah, yes.  
Insert my happy face.
Can you picture it now?
13 partnerships around the room working feverishly on task,
using math talk,
strategic thinking,
taking turns with kindness.....

I mean really,
who doesn't want this happening in their classroom!
So, with lots of eager anticipation, I can't wait to get started!
Since I have a few weeks before school starts, I went shopping for station tubs.
I found a great deal at Wally World for a 10 pack of big storage tubs perfect for station materials.

Sterilite 3.75-Gallon (15-Quart) Latch...
I made labels for my work station tubs!  Super cute and colorful!

 The labels will help organize my station tubs AND the management board.  I also made color-coordinating "I can" checklists so I can have them ready to go for the opening of each new math station! 
Debbie suggests creating a checklist (in whole group) that includes students' expectations and taping it to the inside lid of the station tub.  This is a great way to write out learning objectives and take care of those fast finishers too!
 I just added this little unit to my TPT store if your interested.

School starts August 21, so I can't wait to get started and begin a new year with Math Work Stations!  I promise to keep you posted on the progress and share photos very soon!
If you have any tips or suggestions for me, please leave a comment.
Happy Friday!  


  1. I have that book...thanks for reading it for me! LOL Happy weekend!

  2. WOW!! I would love to be able to do math stations like this. I am doing a simpler form of math rotations! How are you going to change out 16 stations a week?!!

  3. I am so excited by the book as I am reading it now. I will only have 16 kiddos this year but also volunteered to be the only 1st grade teacher with no assistant so that is the reason for the low number. I loved reading about her helping the one teacher organize her materials and wished she could come visit me, lol. I wanted to thank you again for emailing with me a few weeks back about critter cafe. I was able to get more than 1/2 my beanie from a friend and so now I just need to work on the rest. Thanks for the work on the math station labels, they look great.

  4. Hi read that book last summer but never really got it going. Thanks for breaking everything down. I would love to keep reading about how it is going in your class. I am going to try to get it going this year too! THanks for sharing how you plan to start.


  5. Debbie is a great resource, and this one looks like a great read. She's obviously got you thinking up a storm! :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  6. Hi Julie! This happened to us last year with starting the WBT thing....I am right in the middle of reading the math workstations book and getting excited to get it going! I don't start till after Labor Day though so I have a little more time. Thanks for your post and I hope you're having a great summer :)

  7. Just found you through a google search on math workstations. Thanks for the great summary of the book. I am going to order it and get stations started soon. Have been wanting to implement them for a couple years. Your post makes me think I definitely can! Teaching with Giggles

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