We have been working our way through figuring out this math stations thing... and while we love it for most students, we don't love it for some other students. We are also finding that this would be much more difficult to do with only one teacher in the room.
So, what do we love?
- Students are becoming MUCH more independent in their math thinking. We love the "Using Manipulatives" station, as we see it training students to use tools to help them think through a problem. Students are grabbing these tools even if they are not at that station to help them with work / problems in other stations. Hooray!
- Students are thinking through the meaning of math. Even if their thinking is not always correct, they are thinking. This is HUGE for some of our students.
- It is very much student-led, as the students choose which station they go to each day.
- Small group instruction is awesome.
- Through small group instruction, and through documentation of their manipulative work, we can easily see who "gets it" and who needs more support. (More on this documentation in another post!)
- We are able to incorporate math games - which are great language builders for ELs - much more so than in a traditionally structured math class.
- Students are required to write about math. We are finding that this is a very difficult, but needed, skill.
What don't we love?
- Without a "float" person to monitor the stations, there are some students that just fall through the cracks. We have two students in particular who, without adult guidance, would never attempt or complete anything.
- This model - at least the way we have it set up - would be difficult to execute in a classroom with just one teacher. It would definitely need some refinement.
And one thing we sorta have a love/hate relationship with:
When formally assessed (for data, you know), students show exactly what we taught them in small groups. Exactly. For example, we taught them how to find equivalent fractions, and all of the examples we used had either the numerator or denominator of the equivalent fraction already filled in. (eg: 2/3 = ?/6). When given the test, students completely bombed the section where they had to create their own equivalent fractions (eg: find 3 equivalent fractions for 2/3). But, they did fantastic on the section that looked just like the examples we had done together! Soooo.... we really need to work on creating a flexibility in their thinking, so they are not so rigidly tied to the exact examples we use. How do we do this? Well.... that is a question still in progress...
One tweak that we made early on was to designate a "catch-up" day at the end of each 5-day BUILD rotation. We do the BUILD workshop for 5 days, and the 6th day is our catch-up day. Students turn in their workshop folders at the end of Day 5. We go through their work, check for understanding, do some grading, and look for what still needs to be completed. Then, on Day 6, we have students complete any work that is missing, fix any work they did incorrectly, and pull individuals or small groups for remediation. This seems to work really well. It gives us time to keep track of the "paper trail", and really track the students who need additional support.
Overall, we are loving the BUILD math structure. I'm excited to do some more "tweaks" this year, and into next year and really make it work!