Are you struggling to hold your students accountable during math centers?
Follow these easy steps to keep your centers running smoothly and your students fully engaged. This serves to free you up to work with your small group. These tips will help with the rotation and organization of math centers and keep your classroom running smoothly.
Math centers or stations can be a wonderful thing, but when not given enough guidance students may play around or goof off instead of doing the real work of completing the center.
With a little guidance and a lot of support, students can be successful in doing the real work of a math center while freeing you up to work with a small group.
In this post, I will be detailing three steps to ensuring your students are held accountable during math centers.
Step 1: Model Model Model Your Math Centers
It is always tempting to skip the modeling phase, but when you take your time and do it right it can make a world of difference.
Each time a new math center is introduced it is important to take the time to talk through each of the steps.
Especially at the beginning of the school year, I like to take the time to have students practice what it looks like and what it doesn’t look like to be part of a math center. We make posters with examples and non-examples and take pictures of students doing what they should be doing.
These pictures are then displayed around the room. I would place them in areas where students will be using the math stations all year as reminders. By using photographs of students in addition to student-created posters it gives accountability to students. It also puts them in the position to remind one another of what they should be doing.
Step 2: Each Math Center Should Have a Recording or Response Sheet
I hear a lot from teachers who say their students look like they are doing what they should have been doing. Then at the end of a 20-minute rotation, they have nothing to show for it. This is why I always encourage teachers to use a recording or response sheet with each and every math center.
This recording or response sheet does not have to be complicated. It serves as an item that students can turn in. These recording sheets serve a dual purpose. The first purpose is to give them a space to think and record their answers. The second purpose is to give them something to turn in. By turning in the recording or response sheet students are held accountable for how much work they were able to get done in the rotation. It also gives the teacher the opportunity to look over and see if there are any glaring mistakes.
Now, I am not saying you should go through every recording or response sheet every single time. No one has time for that. It does give you an opportunity to go back and look and see if a student understands a particular concept or not.
Step 3: Make a Math Center Routine and Stick With It
Like so many other parts of our classrooms using math stations or centers needs to be part of a routine. Students and teachers alike thrive on routine and we all do better when we know what is expected of us.
After you have thoroughly modeled your expectations and students have practiced with their partners making math centers or stations part of a daily or at least weekly routine will make all the difference. The more you do something the better you get at it.
When you first begin math centers or rotations I would recommend not actually pulling a small group. Instead, rotate around the room to make sure students understand their expectations and are able to complete the task. It should only take a day or two of this wandering around the room in order to make sure that students understand what is expected of them.
By taking this extra time upfront, you will be able to have more fidelity in the way math centers or stations are completed. It will also free you up to pull a small group.
As part of your routine be sure students know what to do when they have a question. This may mean instituting a program like ask three before me or having a special hat that you wear when you cannot be interrupted with a small group. The possibilities are endless and should be tailored to meet the needs of your students.
Ready to Get Started with Math Centers in Your Classroom?
Each set of math centers comes with 10 individual stations or centers focused on one standard. By grouping these stations by standards students are able to practice the same math standard in 10 different ways. This helps them to achieve mastery.