Monday, May 05, 2014

Professional Reading: Math Workshop

I returned to the classroom last year after 4 years as an elementary librarian. The two years before I became a librarian, I taught only Language Arts and Social Studies and shared my classroom with a colleague who taught the Math and Science. So it had been six years since I'd paid much attention to math.

I've always loved teaching math (which surprises lots of people) and I am actually a better mathematician than I am a reader and writer.  I've always loved math and love to watch the discovery on kids' faces as they explore numbers and problem solving and critical thinking.

So I wanted to jump back in and was happy to see that there were lots of amazing resources out there.   I picked up several professional books on math teaching that I planned to read last summer. Then I got a concussion and my reading life was put on hold.  Over the year, I continued to pick up great books and took recommendations from smart friends and colleagues.  So, my stack has grown and grown.  There are books on my stack that I've already read, books I want to read cover to cover and books that I want to dabble in to get the info I'm looking for.

I moved from teaching 4th grade to teaching 3rd grade this year and the math teaching is a little bit different. I find myself looking more in the K-3 resources these days.

Our district is moving to a Math Workshop and as much as I overall like the way math went this year, there are lots of things I need to change.  I am really thinking hard about better routines, more intentional conversations and the role of student choice in Math Workshop.

Books I've read and loved in the last year or two:

One of my favorite reads over the last few years was  Math Exchanges: Guiding Young Mathematicians in Small Group Meetings by Kassia Omohundro Wedikind. I think I read this one once I learned I was going to be teaching 4th grade. (I blogged about it when I first read it.) It was an amazing read and not only changed my ideas about small group instruction in math, but also my thinking about talk and story in the math classroom.  I'm hoping to revisit the book--I recently got a copy of Kassia's DVD How Did You Solve That?: Small-Group Math Exchanges with Young Students and am excited to watch that this summer.

I spent a great deal of time with Number Talks, Grades K-5: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies two years ago and really learned lots about routines and the importance of these number routines. I feel like I need to revisit pieces of this book now that I've taught a year in 3rd grade. I think revisiting the specific 3rd grade sections will help me be more effective with this routine.

I also spent time with What's Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving which helped me think about not only good problems but how to assess problem solving and how to help my students reflect on their own work.

I spent some time with Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3 before I went back into the classroom but it seemed a little primary for 4th grade. Honestly, I forgot about it until I saw the ad from Stenhouse on the accompanying video (Go Figure!) from these authors and I am VERY excited to reread this one from a 3rd grade perspective.  Thinking about routines is definitely one of my biggest goals for next year and this book and video seem perfect to add to my thinking.

Books I'm Most Excited to Read

At MRA this year, we somehow started talking Math and Brian Wyzlic  invented #nerdymathclub.  He recommended 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions [NCTM] and I ordered it right there and then.  I am excited to read this one and learn more about good math discussions.

Another book that lots of people I trust are talking about is Putting the
Practices Into Action: Implementing the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, K-8.  The focus on The Common Core is an important one for me right now as I want to see what others are thinking about the standards and how best to teach in our current era.  I love that this one focuses on Standards for Mathematical Practice rather than content standards.  I am sure it will give me lots to think about and revise.

A brand new book that I am VERY excited about is Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions. Stenhouse has been putting out amazing math professional books so I pretty much trust anything they have on their list. Plus, this book is about talk and I know how important that is. I have read so much about intentional talk in the literacy classroom.
Guided Math in Action

Minds on Mathematics: Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8 looks like one that will help me tweak workshop structure a bit. Even though it is written for grades 4-8, I think the chapters on work time and conferring will help me a lot. I am not sure who recommended this one to me but it is close to the top of my summer stack.

Finally, I picked up Guided Math in Action: Building Each Student's Mathematical Proficiency with Small-Group Instruction because of the focus on small group instruction but looking through it, it will also help me think through workshop in general, observation of students and quality learning opportunities.

There are more on my stack but these are the few I really want to dig into this summer.  I'm open to any other suggestions that will help with Math Workshop in Grade 3!  What are you reading?

Also, we are hoping to have some Twitter Chats around math over the summer. Keep an eye out or the hashtag #nerdymathclub (thanks, @brianwyzlic) if you'd like to join us!


  1. Thank you for posting today and for your feedback on your pile of books. I am posting tomorrow about math after reflecting on this year and thinking about 5th grade math workshop.

  2. I am sending this to a teacher/friend who is going back into the classroom with a great deal of autonomy to design her curriculum. Great list of resources.

  3. So many good titles here Franki. I am always thinking about ways to improve my math time with kids. I've noticed how much more our students know about number sense since our district began using Number Talks. I'm even a little sad that I won't be teaching math next year. I had to just have a pep talk with myself not to order any of the new books you mentioned. :)

  4. I read "Guided Math in Action" this school year and it really helped me think through the workshop model and value of small groups in math during the week. Your list has added many to my list now too! Great post

  5. Thank you Franki for all of the resources! Have played around with math workshop but it just has not gone like how I would like. Looking forward to the math chats this summer!


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