Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chapter 3 Math Stations

I have just completed a week-long math training with Math Solutions, (sponsored by our district), so I am feeling a bit of "disequilibrium" right now.  I am trying to put together what I have read in Debbie Diller's book with what I learned in that  training.  The book we used for that training is About Teaching Mathematics, A K-8 Resource by Marilyn Burns.  So, I hope you will understand if I refer to both books in my answers, as it will really help me to assimilate all the new learning I have gotten in the past two weeks!  It's the only way for me to tackle feeling overwhelmed!!!

  1. What should your math work stations, look like, sound like and feel like?
In my opinion, from both sources (Diller and Burns), a math station ("Menu") is where:
  • a couple students (2, preferably) work together
  • students practice a math skill that has previously been taught and practiced about 6-8 times in whole group or small group sessions before being a station
  • stations include 2-3 activities to complete addressing the same skill
  • students work cooperatively
  • students could be recording their learning
  • on task, using "inside" voices
  • problem solving
  • sharing what the students learned at the end (five minutes)
2.  What does your management board look like?
I have tried a couple ways that have not been as user-friendly or successful as I'd like.  (Sorry, no pictures.  I started this book party after school had let out for the summer.)  The main management system I used was a pocket chart with pictures of the stations across the top and the students' names velcroed on a strip below each station.  I usually had five centers (which is what I called them last year), with 3-4 students grouped heterogeneously in each center.  When it was time to rotate, I'd go to the pocket chart and move the top pictues of the center.  Then I'd have to repeat for each student which center they were to go to.  It was, at best, confusing to all but the very top students in the class.  It would've worked better if I had:
  • used students' photos instead of names
  • didn't expect to get to five centers in one day
  • made it so I didn't have to move cards around between every center
  • made the chart so that the students names had the photos of the centers next to their name that they would go to for that day only
3.  How do you support math vocabulary (math talk cards) in your stations? 
I didn't.....but I certainly will this year!  I introduced the vocabulary and used it with the students, but wasn't good about reinforcing their use of it.  Next year I will develop the Math Talk cards with the students.
  • Teach the mathematical concepts that the vocabulary word describes prior to introducing the vocabulary (Marilyn Burns' book, p. 43)
  • Focus on both vocabulary content words as well as process words
  • Systematic instruction: (From Marilyn Burns' book)
    • Identify the vocabulary to be taught.
    • Introduce vocabulary after developing understanding of the related mathematical ideas.
    • Explain the vocabulary by connecting its meaning to the students' learning experiences.
    • Have the students pronounce the words.
    • Write the new vocabulary on a class " Math Words" chart
    • Have students keep their own list of math words.
    • Use the vocabulary repeatedly.
    • Encourage the students to use the vocabulary in discussions, stations, and on assignments.
Burns' book emphasized that "knowledge of mathematical vocabulary is neither the end goal of mathematics instruction nor the primary indicator of students' mathematical success."


  1. Thank you for linking up. I am enjoying reading everyone's thoughts on this topic. I just love how everyone can join in this discussion of finding more appropriate ways to teach children math.

  2. Thank you for linking up! I love Marilyn Burns!!!

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten