For the last three years, I’ve been one of the few
cursed lucky middle school teachers to teach both ELA and math. Let’s just say that when standardized testing time rolls around, there isn’t enough chocolate in the world to soothe my frazzled nerves!
Admittedly, ELA has my heart. When I’ve got my kids all wrapped up in a heated debate sparked by the novel we are reading, or I witness the moment when a student steps out of the role of “kid who writes” and into the role of “writer,” I feel a sense of purpose radiate through me. Aside from motherhood, nothing else I’ve ever done compares.
Math is, well, math. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it… I love teaching, so really I don’t mind teaching anything! But, I find it often plays second fiddle to all my ELA planning.
This year, though, I spent a good chunk of my summer revamping my math block. I am piloting a new program (Digits), so I saw it as an opportunity to mix it up, changing everything that I don’t love about the structure of my block. After speaking to some of my brilliant colleagues, I got some great ideas. Then, I streamlined some stuff, cut out some stuff, and added some stuff. What I’m left with is a dynamic math workshop that keeps me on my toes and really seems to fit the needs of all my learners.
The 90-minute breakdown:
I’m scheduled for 90-minutes, but my block is right after specials, so my kids are almost always late… and then they need a drink… and then they need the bathroom… and then they forgot their books in homeroom… so basically, I only plan for 80-minutes.
During the first part of the block, I have an intervention teacher come in to support, so we start our day with small group instruction. The independent work the students do at this time supports the lesson from the day prior. As you can see from the plan, struggling learners spent most of their time with the intervention teacher for small group instruction. Everyone else completes their independent work, but I am there to troubleshoot or answer any questions they might have, so the kids who need the most help are not interrupted. Additionally, some of my strong learners get to do some enrichment/challenge work at this time and I can support them as needed.
In the past, I have done small group instruction without another teacher in the room. I set the rule that I was not to be interrupted while I worked with the struggling learners. This meant that the kids who were working independently and had a question, had to rely on each other for help! With a little training, kids can really become great “peer coaches” and their helping strengthens their own skills, too.
The menu board: