Math Centers in upper grades

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Deeena, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. Deeena

    Deeena Cohort

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    Jul 3, 2008

    Hi,

    I am planning on adding math center rotations next school year. I basically want to group my students by ability level and have them rotate to different math activities, one activity being small group instruction with me. I know this is popular in primary grades, however, I would like to try it with my 5th graders. So I'm thinking of having several different "stations." One station would be practice book problems, another might be a math game on the computer, etc. Each group would spend about 15 minutes in each station. Does anyone do anything like this? What are some age appropriate math activities they could be doing in small groups? Thanks for your input.
     
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  3. Love to Teach

    Love to Teach Cohort

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    Jul 3, 2008

    http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/me5l/html/Math5.html?launch=true
    http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/mesg/html/math6web/math6shell.html?launch=true

    My Title 1 teacher and I collaborated to develop centers for my 5th graders this past year, actually more like stations. We picked a skill to address each week, and then came up with activities-actually she did most of the work, bless her! :) One station was a computer station, and we used the Spy Guys link for Math 6 up above. I just now found the Math 5 one, so I included that link, as well.

    *Forgot to mention that we did this just once a week. :)

    Another station was Versa Tiles:
    http://www.etacuisenaire.com/versatiles/vthome.jsp

    A third station always involved manipulatives for hands on practice.

    Our fourth station was usually some type of paper and pencil or white boards practice activity.

    The fifth station was a series of Logic Problem cards that I had made, using problems from DiscoverySchool.
    http://school.discoveryeducation.com/brainboosters/

    It seemed to work really well, and the kids liked it. We picked skills that needed reinforcing or that we find hard to get to before tests in the spring. We allowed so much time per station, and the kids rotated through each one. We learned to have a back up activity for groups that finished a station early. With two of us in the room, it really helped. :)

    Hope this helps give you some ideas! :angel:
     
  4. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Jul 3, 2008

    I do centers on occassion. I use a Super Source CD, AIMS, and various teacher resource books to find the centers.
    I strongly recommend NOT grouping your kids by ability. Your low group(s) will likely struggle and just feel frusterated. You need higher kids in there to help them out.
     
  5. iheart5thgrade

    iheart5thgrade Comrade

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    Jul 3, 2008

    I couldn't agree more! Don't ability group, you need some higher kids to help the lower kids with the thought processes and math skills.

    I use stations in my class on occasion and it works well. I usually make 5 stations that they rotate to...I always make one station where they will "conference" with me and another station is always involving the computer. The other three change a lot.
     
  6. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Love to Teach, the resources you mentioned are VERY impressive!!!!!!! :) (Gets very excited because I have never seen Math 5 Live before)
     
  7. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I honestly wish I had a choice; I know how the struggling students in math feel. Yet I don't have a choice and always volunteer to take that class, though I have seen them get frustrated and upset before.
     
  8. Writer02

    Writer02 Companion

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    Jul 4, 2008

    I agree that grouping should be fluid, ever changing. Sometimes I might group by ability, but many times I prefer heterogenous groups. The mixed abilities will help everyone learn something new as they rotate through the stations.

    Now, if your stations are geared for the basics and your lower students go through them, then the higher students are going through stations that are more difficult; perhaps label the stations the same (i.e. A, B, C) so it's not obvious that the levels are different. It's challenging to meet everyone's needs every day. So, I go for variety in my groupings.
     
  9. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I did guided math groups this year in my 3/4 class and BOTH groups grew more than I have ever had a class grow. I disagree about grouping by ability in this case. If you pre-assess the kid before each new unit and create new groups, and are flexible in the groups it should be fine.

    Also, my kids did their CENTERS in heterogenous groups, and I pulled kids in their small groups as I needed them. Since I was not able to meet with each group each day, the kids all worked with one another eventually.

    I did not do groups for EVERY unit! Mostly it was necessary in my computation strands, as 3rd and 4th graders are doing very different work when it comes to x and division. Also, even addition and subtraction were very different. My probability unit was done together, as well as several integrated projects throughout the year, where they worked in mixed groups. We did a huge data project that was done in mixed groups. I often did the introduction to a unit with the lower level materials, to refresh the fourth and introduce to the third. Then, later I would spiral around again and go deeper with both groups in different ways. This was particularly true with the fraction unit. At first we all just did fractions with fraction bars and circle manipulatives and drawing fractions etc. Later, I worked with them on adding and subtracting fractions (both groups.) Even later, I worked with the fourth graders on mixed denominators, reducing, etc. while the third reviewed more of the same fraction stuff with manipulatives. This worked well for me.

    Maybe it was different because my kids KNEW they were in different grades, but honestly, doing guided math groups was the BEST thing I have ever done!!!

    While they were not working with me they did fact practice, worksheet practice things, manipulatives, or projects in math, games, etc. I don't set up centers that rotate, rather I just assign a group (mixed level or same level) to try one activity I have prepared. Often they would start with a fact practice sheet, and when they were done, find a partner to play some game with. Then I would call kids to a group. If a kid lost their parter because I called them to work, they had a practice folder with puzzles and practice pages to work on.

    My TA is also in the room during math, so she sometimes woud take a group as well.
     
  10. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Jul 4, 2008

    I will add a list of how I did my units this year:

    The groups were not grouped by grade most of the time but by ability- my low group had 2 fourth graders and the rest third, and my high group had 2 third graders and the rest fourth

    Sept. Fractions - whole class
    Sept/Oct- Data- whole class
    Oct- Place Value- leveled groups
    Nov- Number lines and hundreds charts with the third graders and low fourth/ negative and positive numbers on the number line with the high third and fourth graders (leveled by ability)
    Dec- addition/subtraction- leveled groups AND a whole class project where they worked in mixed partnerships to do a big project involving purchasing items from a 1000 dollar limit
    Jan- Multiplication- leveled groups (high also did long division)
    Feb- probability- whole class
    Feb- More Fractions- leveled groups
    March- Measurement- whole class
    March- More Fraction, decimals, percents- leveled groups
    April- Geometry- whole class
    May- more fractions!! - leveled groups
    May- More multiplication, division introduced to lower group
    June- review of needed skills by lower group, higher group did a super intense project that culminated ALL skills. They found the surface area of these picture frames (to the 1/8th of an inch) and multiplied it by the number of students in the class. Then we stained the frames and put in picture we had taken for the auction project. This project was huge, as they found the surface area of the front and back of the frame as well as the outside edge and the inside edge. They had to multiply mixed numbers and fractions with different denominators as well as do long division, large multiplication problems, etc. it was a great culminating project. I got the frames at Michael's for a dollar a piece! I totally recommend this for anyone who can spend the time on it. It took SEVERAL sessions and TONS of computation- no calculators and no rounding!
     
  11. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I like your plan, Miss Froggy. :)

    Since we have to ability group, I will still try the guided math groups and place students together from different levels within my group. Some kids who come in have a decent grasp of multiplication while others don't know it at all, so I can form groups where they are grouped semi-heterogeneously...

    What is that program you use again, Miss Froggy?
     
  12. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    We use Investigations- well we were supposed to. I really veered off track last year and ended up using the third grade curriculum only, and making up the fourth based on the state standards. I did that because last year I had most of the same kids, and used the fourth grade with the higher ones already, so they had done it all before. So my high fourth graders did the fourth grade curriculum in 3rd grade. I kind of messed up in that regard, but I didn't want to go into the fifth grade curriculum because that teacher is a little more lock-step and probably would just have them do it again.
     
  13. ~~Pam~~

    ~~Pam~~ Companion

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    Jul 4, 2008

    I have used both types of grouping and found that using ability groups only was most difficult in algebra. In all other topics it really made no difference with the assignments I made. Here are a few examples. I used four centers (mon - Thur) and students rotated. Some centers that required more time were used for two groups (two days). Fridays would then follow up with whole class activities and written critiques of the various activities (getting them to write in math without them realizing it!)

    Integers: one group played integer BINGO (students work way more problems than I would ever assign) and check each other's answers. one group played integer "24", one group completed an integer maze, and the last group used computers to play integer games on www.xpmath.com

    Geometry: one group used compass and straightedge to complete constructions using computer instruction, two groups completed constructions for a "Where is Carmen Sandiego" puzzle from NC Exemplars, and one groups used patty paper to investigate constructions.

    Coordinate Plane: two groups followed written instructions to create a coat of arms for their name using the coordinate plane, one group completed designs by graphing given ordered pair, and one group created their own dot-to-dot by giving the ordered pair.
     
  14. mstnteacherlady

    mstnteacherlady Cohort

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    I am going to try to plug math centers into my classroom this year, so I'm interested to read all of the ideas. Subscribing now! :)
     
  15. GD2BQN

    GD2BQN Comrade

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  16. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 5, 2008

    I need this topic, too! :) I have to do something meaningful to really help out my math students this year. Well, I'm incenting them to master multiplication, but that's besides the case.
     

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