Before we talk about creating engaging student-led math centers and moving toward a student-led classroom, let’s pause while I make a confession. Teaching Math can be tough, especially when you have a classroom full of students who are all in different levels and have a great range of academic and emotional needs.
I confess that I have been there. I also must confess that Math is my all-time favorite subject to teach. Seriously, it is. There is such a great amount of satisfaction that can come from helping a student learn how to solve a tough problem all in his own. You know those light-bulb moments? I live for them. Aren’t they the best?
In more recent years, I gravitated toward setting up my math classroom so that students had more choice and were able to decide on those activities that appealed most to them. Guess what?
Student Choice + FUN = Greater Learning and Greater Student Happiness.
I 100% believe this!
So, when my friend Joey Udovich (from Create, Teach, and Share) and I began to talk about creating the ultimate, most helpful math resource ever, I immediately knew that our project MUST include a fun, interactive component AND an element of student choice. Those two things were key parts of this project, which truly became our passion and focus. Joey and I worked tirelessly (well, maybe we were a little tired at times…) together for months creating and fine-tuning this amazing student-led math centers resource until finally we had a completed project we are so incredibly proud of! The Absolute, Ultimate, Interactive Multipurpose Math Center is SO much more than a set of normal math centers.
While Joey gives a detailed look at exactly HOW to set up and use this resource in her super-great blog post, I’d like to focus on how you can make your math class a little more student-led and allow your students a greater amount of choice. First, let’s take a look at exactly what we included in this resource to help you have a greater amount of freedom and flexibility as a teacher:
Honestly, with over 500 pages of top-quality pages, the options on how you can set up your math classroom are endless! Setting up choices for students is so easy because we have made sure to include everything you need to set up students for maximum success with a greater amount of independence.
Keep the following things in mind when creating student-led Math centers:
- You decide how many choices the students will have. I would never suggest putting the entire file out for students to access at once. The result would be a mild picture of confusion at best. Choose a set number of topics you want students to be able to choose from, and set things up using those topics only.
- If you have a year-long curriculum map, use it as a guide when selecting topics and worksheets from which students can choose.
- Use individual student checklists and folders (included in the packet) to keep track of students’ progress and mastery of skills.
- Provide opportunities for lower-level students to have success by differentiating their folder choices.
- Allow higher-level students the freedom to move along at a faster pace by using the student example pages to work on new topics. Your gifted and enrichment students will welcome this change of pace!
Interested in how this resource can be used in a student-led classroom? Below you will see photos of the different components included in this HUGE packet. Following each photo, there is an explanation of how you can use that piece in your classroom to allow more student freedom and choice. Here we go:
By using the Math Wall to introduce, reinforce, or support specific Math topics which you choose, you are setting up your students for a greater level of success. You choose which topics to display (We’ve included a header and illustrated example card for every, single standard for grades 3-5), but students will be able to select from those topics what they want to work on during independent work time. The visual appeal of this component is incredible…your students will LOVE it!
This is where the magic of student choice happens. Well, ok…. maybe not real magic, but it sure feels magical to me! Once your students have looked at the Math Wall to identify a topic they need/want to work on, they walk right over to the Interactive Math Center Student Pages Folder System.
For ours, we color-coded the files according to standards. So, all the Geometry topics are found in one color of folder, while all the Numbers and Operations in Base Ten topics are found in another color of folder. In each folder, students will have access to an example sheet, showing step by step how to solve a related problem and they will find several student work pages for that topic. We’ve made the work sheets as fun and inviting as possible!
Honestly, we worked very hard to make everything as easy and seamless for teachers using our system, while keeping the pages as fun, interactive, and engaging as possible for students. We feel it is the best of both worlds! There are over 340 student worksheets, aligned to match all math standards for grades 3-5. Of course, all answer keys are included. Either allow your students to self-check, or use the keys to check yourself.
Student folders are another great way to help students have more independence and choice within your Math classroom! After students have completed a worksheet for a particular skill, they can either self-check it with the provided answer key, or they can keep it in their folder for you to collect and check at a designated time. Once you have looked over the folders and checked on the students’ progress, date and sign off the topic completed. This makes documentation and record-keeping much more simple! You can either have students keep their folders in their desks or keep them in a designated area for easy retrieval.
So, there you have it (in a very small, brief nutshell). Moving toward a more student-led classroom is not that difficult, after all. Then again, you can definitely use this entire system in a more traditional manner. Need homework for the year? Looking for test-prep and easy review materials? Searching for worksheets to better support your existing curriculum? It is ALL here. I promise you will NOT be disappointed.
To see a FREE VIDEO where Joey and I demonstrate how to best set up and use this resource in YOUR classroom, click HERE. (Joey is a natural on camera. I’m still working on my video skills. 😉 )
To purchase and download this amazing resource to use in your classroom right away, click HERE.
We have poured our heart and soul into our Absolute, Ultimate, Interactive Multipurpose Math Center. We know that it will lead you to a more peaceful, productive school year, and that you will see a higher level of success with your own students! We truly believe student-led math centers are the way to go. Thanks for reading, happy teaching, and enjoy the journey!
Shelly and Joey