The way that I use third grade math centers fits into my MATH STACK math block schedule. I begin my math block with a math warm up. This is a quick spiral review activity. Next, we move into a math mini-lesson whole group which lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Following that, we break into MATH STACK. One of the rotation choices is math centers. Students rotate to the math centers choice and do one activity per day while there. These activities come from Third Grade Math Centers Bundle as well as Third Grade Stations by Standard.
The Purpose of Math Centers
I began creating math centers to provide students the opportunity to practice, apply, and strategize independent concepts. Just because I was introducing place value in the whole group lesson did not mean that students were independent with it and ready to go do an activity without guidance in a math tub. Some students hadn’t even been to my small group yet and were heading to a math center to work on a hands-on activity. I strongly believe that our rotations are opportunities for our students to become fluent with previously learned concepts that take numerous chances to practice and apply. Remember the impossible number of spiral review standards we have for the month? This is how we meet that requirement!
STUDENTS WORKING INDEPENDENTLY
The purpose of workstations is having students actively learning during the entire math block. Rather than being in a passive role, students actively engage in collaborative learning opportunities. We want to build a well-rounded math experience. Workstations should not be new information or skills. They should be a spiral-review of previously taught concepts.
The reason for this is to be sure students have had time to understand the learning before putting it out for them to do independently. Workstations allow students to practice and apply math skills in many formats. Not only does this strengthen their understanding, but it builds fluency and automaticity in math skills. When students have the opportunity to practice and apply concepts through the year and not just when they are first being taught, they gain confidence and comfortability. This is the goal of workstations. Put out a variety of skills and concepts that provide a spiraled review.
WHAT ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY?
I could talk for an hour about center accountability and my experiences with it through the years as I used the guided math framework, but to keep it short and simple, I have included answer keys and recording sheets.
Keeping up with math centers prep can be an uphill battle, but having engaging standards-based centers for independent student rotations is worth its weight in
gold jean passes. To help ease the prep, yet keep the excitement and engagement high, I like to prep my math centers in the summer or while on break and then have them ready for the school year. This makes it easy to grab and go when life moves too quickly.
More on Third Grade Guided Math
To further explore the structure of guided math and workstation options I have this recent blog post.