Over the summer I participated in a great book study on Minds on Mathematics; Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8 by Wendy Ward Hoffer. I loved the book and it was laid out so clearly that I was 100% sure that I was going to use the math workshop model exclusively with my 7th and 8th grade this year. After the PD on my new textbook series (Math in Focus; Singapore Math) I wasn't so sure the workshop model was going to "work" for me this year. While I really like our new curriculum, the way it was presented to us was very "scripted" Now I know that sounds totally awful, but I thought that for this year, I would stick as closely to it as possible since I was new to Singapore Math. Now that we are in January, I feel comfortable with the text and methods and finally feel ready to give the workshop model another go!
Something I realized this week, is that the best way for me to get started implementing the workshop model is to keep it simple! Basically my struggle with implementing the workshop was trying to find "juicy problems" that fit the skill I'm trying to teach. Well, I decided that what I am really trying to accomplish with this is giving the kids more struggle time. I had been doing an I do, we do, you do model and only releasing them to the you do when they demonstrated understanding, which a lot of times was the whole period. Now, I model a general problem and then get them to work. Its almost been a "duh" moment to me, they aren't going to ask questions and struggle with problems until they start working on them! So far they have been doing a great job of coming up with questions that spark really good conversations.
I also realized that I don't have to do math workshop every day with every lesson! Started a great activity today with 8th grade that I can't wait to blog about, had them go out around the school timing how long it takes to walk to certain classes and how many steps they take, then they are going to graph the data and answer some questions about the slopes and intercepts, we finish it up on Monday so sometime next week I'll work on that!
I'm using my circle tracker on my clip board as a checklist to make sure I'm checking in with everyone. I don't really keep any formal recording of it. I fill in the circle tracker with results from the entrance ticket/exit tickets that I collect.