Saturday, April 30, 2016

Math Workshop:Sharing & Reflection

Welcome to the final week of our Minds on Mathematics book study.  If you missed them you can go back and read Understanding Takes Time,  Shallow Versus Deep MathStarting Class and Mini Lessons & Work Time.  

This week are going to take a deeper look at ending class with sharing and reflecting when using a math workshop model.  


Perhaps the most important part of a math workshop model is the time for students to share.  It is so important to stop work time before the end of your math class period and give kids a chance to share.  This is the part that helps to solidify their comprehension and gives them a chance to practice metacognition which is thinking about their own thinking.  They get a chance to synthesize their understanding, check on their progress and make goals for the next day.  Teachers can gather important formative assessment data about what strategies kids are using and where to go next.  By communicating their thinking and listening to a variety of peers' solutions and ideas, students make connections and deepen their own thinking.  

My favorite way to structure sharing time is by bringing the whole group back together.  As I have been circulating during work time, I choose a few pairs to share their thinking.  I pick pairs who have different strategies and ideas to share.  Then I have students present their work while classmates ask questions or make connections.  When multiple groups present different ideas, we take some time to synthesize the learning and talk about which strategies were most efficient.  To add some variety to our days, I sometimes will mix the pairs up and have them share with another person or another pair.  With clear expectations and a lot of practice, my students have become more efficient at this portion of math workshop and it is easier for me to fit it all in to one class period.  In the rare case where work time extends beyond where I intended, we will start the next days class with sharing time.  


I love how kids can learn from each other during sharing, but I also love how kids can learn from themselves during reflection.  This is usually a quick but important part of math workshop.  I don't get to this every single day but at least a few times per week.  On any given day, we might reflect on behavior, or our skills as mathematicians, or what we have learned, or the process of solving problems.  We never do all of these at once, we usually just choose one.

The reflection I enjoy the most is the time at the end of a unit or a semester or school year when we have time to look a little more in depth at progress.  This is often when we will do some writing or comparing work from the beginning and end of a unit.  This is the deep reflection that makes all of my students feel like they are really learning.  It really helps to make their learning personal.  It also really helps with setting goals in an authentic way.

I love the reflection prompts printed on pages 162 & 163 in the book.  I think these would be well worth posting in my classroom to help us bring our reflecting to the next level.  I don't often do quick written reflections but with the questions and sentence frames presented here, I think I could get some valuable information from my students without adding a lot of time or stress to our day.

Thanks for following along as I read this great book!  Please share your thoughts about sharing and reflecting in the comments below!

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