Math Centers

4 Must Have Workstations: Problem Solving Part 2

Posted on August 6, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Math Centers, Math Workstations, Mathematical Proficiency, Problem Solving | Tags: , , , , |

In the word problem station, students should also be writing problems.  Remember that reasoning has to do with both contextualizing (numbers to words) and decontextualizing (words to numbers).  So, make sure you give the students opportunities to write word problems at least once or twice a week.  The research states that it is important to give the students the units along with the numbers.

Must read article: The Answer is 20 Cookies, What’s the question?

See my word problem Pinterest Board for some ideas (anchor charts of Think Math)

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Must have Math Workstations: Math Word Problems (Part 1)

Posted on July 31, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Math Centers, Math Workstations, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , |

Problem Solving is super important. Students need to have many opportunities to engage with problem solving throughout math workshop. Remember that it is not about the key words but rather the problem types!  Here are 5 ideas for the problem solving station.

#1 Do Word Problem Sorts where students have to sort the problems by types

#2 Have students solve problems using templates to scaffold their thinking

(example 1)

(bookmarks of models)

#3 Use math mats at all grade levels (students can make up all types of stories from addition/subtraction/multiplication/division/fractions and rations) (also look here under the different calculations for more mats) (and check out my math mats board) (also PROBLEM SOLVING BOOKS – CCSS ALIGNED BY GRADE)

#4  Definitely use CGI Resources (Just google CGI Math)

# 5 Use Math Playground Bar Diagramming Videos and Thinking Blocks Practice

P.S. Be sure to check out my Word Problem Pinterest Board for More ideas

P.S.S.  More Great Resources!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

4 Must Have Math Workstations: # 3 The Digital Workstation

Posted on July 30, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Digital Learners, Math Centers, Math Workstations, virtual manipulatives | Tags: , , , , |

July 30, 2013

The students that we teach are known as “Digital Natives” by Prensky (2001). We on the other hand, are referred to as the “Immigrants.” They were born in the 21st century.  We were born in the 20th century.  We teach the way we learned.  So, many of us are still using 20th century ways to teach in the 21st century.  I am not suggesting that we throw out all of those ways.  But, WE MUST add to them.  We must expand our own repertoires of teaching.  We must learn some new ways.  We must step into the 21st century.

I had the honor of working with Heidi Hayes Jacobs for years at Columbia during the summers. She would always tell teachers to upgrade just 1 thing in their classrooms-  Just 1.  I think that works.  That way, we don’t become overwhelmed and and simultaneously we don’t underwhelm our students with our teaching.  Learn just 1 new thing that reflects that we live, learn and teach in the 21st century.

Here are 5 great sites to get you started!

#1: Have the students watch or make a glog: (check out the glogopedia to get ideas)

#2: Have the students watch or make an animoto as a hook into a lesson.

#3: Play games on Math PlaygroundCyberchase, BBC, Johnnie’s Homepage,Harvey’s HomepageMath Play

#4: Use virtual manipulatives (NLVMGlencoeMath Playground)

#5: Show education video clips to teach a concept (teacher tubeschool tubelearn zillionMath Playground) 

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Must Have Workstations: The Vocabulary Math Workstation

Posted on July 17, 2013. Filed under: Common Math Errors, Math Centers, Math is a Language, Math Workstations | Tags: , , , |

Math is a language!  If we want our students to speak it, we have to teach them the words.  So, have a vocabulary math workstation.  In the vocabulary math workstation you are trying to get students to own the vocabulary through games and activities  and math journal activities. Remember in the CCSSM students are evaluated on whether they are using everyday words or math words.  So, instead of number and answer…they should be saying factor, divisor, addend and quotient, sum, difference, product.  Be sure you speak math to your students, require them to speak math with you and each other and give them ample opportunities to practice the words.

Granite Math Vocabulary words are great because you can cut them up and play matching games with the words, the examples and the definitions.

Math Spelling City – There are several activities to do with the CCSS math aligned word lists! – Make crossword puzzles and word finds.  Crossword puzzles are great and academically rigorous because you are giving students the definition and asking them to tell you the word.  Also, give them word finds, not just to find the word but to find, define, use it in a sentence, and give an example.

Set up tic tac toe games where the students have to choose a word and illustrate and define it.  ( -test saavy)

Have students do interactive math journal activities with the words.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Successful Strategies for Guided Math Groups: Nonlinguistic Representations

Posted on July 6, 2013. Filed under: Assessment, Common Core, Math Centers | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Marzano (2001) found that nonlinguistic strategies move student achievement.  This is exactly aligned with the mathematical practices – using models, representations, sketches, drawings, diagrams and pictures to name a few. Make sure that in each unit of study you use these items.  Here are a few examples to get you started (there are lots more on my Pinterest boards).

Math Sketches

Flip Books

Tape/Bar Diagrams

Math Mind Maps

Thinking Math Maps

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

4 Must Have Workstations

Posted on June 24, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Digital Learners, Math Centers, Math Workstations, Problem Solving | Tags: , , , , , |

There are a variety of workstations that you can set up throughout the year.  But, there are 4 must have workstations that you should set up all year long. Why?  Because these workstations allow students to engage in distributed practice throughout the year on the basic skills and content for their grade level.  I am going to list the stations below and during the next couple of weeks. I will write extensively about these stations and how to use them.

Workstation 1:  Fluency – You need a fluency station that is leveled and allows students to review facts they know and practice facts that they are working on.

Workstation 2: Word Problems- Remember in the CCSSM there are specific word problem types assigned to each grade level.  Do you currently take this into account?  Do you know what types your students have proficiency with?

Workstation 3: Vocabulary – Math is a language.  If you want your students to speak it, they must know the words and phrases.

Workstation 4: Digital – Our students are called Digital Natives and we are called the Immigrants by Prensky(2001).  How is this reflected in your math workstations.

I look forward to a wonderful discussion about workstations with you in the next couple of  weeks!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Math Workstations: Part 5 (Engaging Activities)

Posted on June 11, 2013. Filed under: Math Centers, Math Workstations | Tags: , |

Engaging activities “tend to draw favorable attention or interest.”  Do your math units and lessons meet this criteria? Do your students show up everyday ready to learn and excited about the next step on the journey.  Are they sitting at the edge of their seats waiting with baited breath for what is going to happen next?  In other words, is your math class engaging?

What do you do to connect with your students?  Remember that these folks are the digital natives. Do you use technology in a variety of ways to connect with them?  Do you show videos, play digital games, do math workstations on ipads, pods and laptops?  Do you have them play games with each other and in groups?  Do you use a variety of tools and manipulatives (even though this is a k site the manipulatives go across the grades)? What do you do exactly to engage your students?  Because, according to NAP (2001) engagement matters just as much as all the other stuff!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Math Workstations: Component 3 (Standards Based)

Posted on May 24, 2013. Filed under: Assessment, Common Core, Math Centers, Math Workstations, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , |

Math Workstations should be standards-based.  By that I mean that every single one of the stations should be connected with a standard.  In the beginning of the year, many of the initial math workstations will be a review of the prior year’s standards.  As the year progresses, you will make workstations based on the current grade level. Sometimes, for your expert level students, who may be working above-grade level, you might do a vertical compacting workstation where you put activities from the next set of standards in the learning progression.

Students should be aware of the standards they are working on in the Math Workstation.  It should be as clear as day.  I recommend that you put the “I can statement” (a student-friendly version of the standard) written right on the portable math workstation or pasted somewhere near that particular workstation. If students know where they are going, they are much more likely to get there!

When you confer with your students, you can talk about where they are on the learning progression, from their point of view and yours:)  Christine Mulgrave-King (2010) refers to this a student ownership of their learning (see her work at

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Math Workstations: Component 2 (Differentiation)

Posted on May 22, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Differentiated Instruction, Math Centers | Tags: , , , , , |

First of all, Math Workstations are data-driven.  Second, they are differentiated. After-all, you have to do something with that data.  It is one thing to collect data, it is another to analyze, interpret and then provide learning experiences based on the data.  What do you currently do with  your data?  Put it in a binder and on the shelf? How do  you USE it?  Key word here, USE… 

Data should directly inform what children are doing in math workstations.  Everybody shouldn’t be doing the same thing in a math workstation…otherwise it is just like doing whole group instruction (everybody at the same time doing the same thing) in small groups…with no attention to individual student needs.

Math workstations are about children engaging in purposeful practice in their zone of proximal development.  

Math workstations are not busy work.

Math workstations are engaging but more.  

Math workstations are directly connected to where the student is on his/her learning journey.

So, that means that in the Fluency Center…students are working on activities that help them achieve mastery where they are and help them to move onto the next level.  Some students might be working on make ten facts, others might be working on doubles and still others might be working on adding 7’s,8’s and 9’s.  In the Word Problem Center, some students might be working on Take From Change Unknown problems and others might be working on Part Part Whole Part Missing Problems.  In the place value center, some students might be building numbers with base ten blocks, others might be drawing out representations and others might be working on expanded form with styrofoam cups (at an abstract level).

Now, just ease your way into it!  Don’t try to differentiate everything at once or you’ll get overwhelmed and not do any of it.  Start slow, start with a plan…just start!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki




Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

An interesting problem solving packet!

Posted on May 9, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Guided math, Math Centers | Tags: , , |

Here it is!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries Next Entries »

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...