- Workshop is laboratory instruction; structure is kept simple and streamlined so the heart is the work
- Procedures are thought through in advance
- Mini-lesson only 10 minutes; it's for teaching a strategy to add to their repertoire; might just be adding a bullet to an anchor chart
- There are strategies in place for transitioning from mini-lesson to writing; must get community going quickly; go around quickly and communicate with gestures; cover the room
- Intensive small groups; "I pulled you guys together because..."; must be planned; anticipate how kids might screw up what you taught in the mini-lesson
- Mid-workshop interruptions; "Can I stop you guys? Look what Robert is doing. I wonder if some of you can try Robert's technique"; "Guys. You're forgetting to paragraph!" (voice over); "Eyes up here." (If you say it, mean it)
- End with a share; usually getting back with a partner and discussing the strategy they were practicing; could be a class discussion
Doesn't that sound a LOT like what should be going on in math workshop?
One statement Lucy made during the morning that really stuck with me was this:
The primary time in workshop is time spent writing.Not the mini-lesson, but the time spent writing. Now translate that to math workshop and you get The primary time in workshop is time spent doing math. That's your workstations. Think about your planning process. How much of it do you spend discussing and planning the actual workstations the kids will be doing versus the lesson you will be teaching. If you are teaching in a true workshop structure, your kids are spending a significant amount of time in workstations. They have to be deliberately planned, not a afterthought.
And how have you planned sharing time into your workshop schedule? Is it an afterthought that you sometimes get to? I know it's hard to stop 5 minutes before the instructional block ends. But it's so, so important for kiddos to get time to process and communicate about their learning!
It's nearly mid-year (hard to believe!), and it's a great time to reflect on the effectiveness of your math workshop and plan adjustments for the first of the year.
If you'd like to know more about math workshop, here are some great resources: