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  • Writer's pictureKristy Johnson

Workshop Model in Upper Elementary Math



The workshop model is the perfect way to organize your math block in upper elementary and middle school. It sounds confusing and difficult to fit everything in, however, if you are intentional about the time, it is much easier to make it all work. I also have a Facebook group - Math Workshop Model Teachers - if you want to join the conversation.


If you are new to using Math Workshop Model, I have also created an online, self-paced course to teach you the ins and outs of the model and how to differentiate and save time doing it. You will walk away with a plan, tools to use, and of course time saving tips for your upcoming year! You can check that out HERE!

Mini Lesson :

Mini lessons are the perfect way to introduce a new topic and teach a skill. A mini lesson is a 12-15 minute period for you, the teacher, to teach your students something new. This time is your time! I use the first 2 minutes to connect to yesterday’s lesson and grab the students attention. I love flocabulary.com to get the students excited about the learning. If you have not heard of it, it is a website with songs and music videos about the different educational topics. I try to start each day with a song, or at minimum I use it once a week for our current topic.


Following the activating time, I use an anchor chart to teach the skill of the day. I pass out the pre-cut anchor chart notes and students glue them into their journals. My full year of 4th Grade Anchor Charts are sized to fit two to a page in their journals. However, I actually have them glue the notes on one side and on the other I leave open for students to do practice problems or their small group work for the day. This allows them to keep it all in one place. To finish up the mini lesson, I have students complete a ”Ticket to Centers”, which is similar to an exit slip but it is one or two questions that students answer and I determine a quick mastery, then send them to the group or center they need to work on for the day.


This is an example of a notebook page from a math lesson. I passed out the anchor chart and they glued it in on the left side. Above the anchor chart, students always put the date and the "I Can" statement. On the right side is work from their center from that day. They must include the work from at least 2 questions from their center, however, they can do more if needed.


Small Group Time :

Next is the time where students practice the skills and I really work with those kiddos who showed they were struggling yesterday or with the ticket to groups. I pull them to my table and work on the skills they need. Sometimes I do a modified lesson and practice problems while other times we play a game to practice a basic skill that the current skill would build from. On average I only pull about 5 students at a time, but it depends on the number that struggled and what we worked on. Join the small group conversation in our Facebook group - Math Workshop Model Teachers.





Closing :

Lastly, at the end of the math block, we have the closing. Now to be honest, I do not get to this every day but wish I did. During the closing, students share something out or will do an exit activity. Here are some of my favorite closing ideas, from quickest to longest amount of time they take to complete.





  • Red Light- Students will color red, yellow, or green and their name on a Post-It note to signify how they felt about that day's skill. They will leave this note on my small group table.

  • Bubble Up- On the wall I have a speech bubble and students add one thing to the bubble that they are thinking.

  • Hashtag Closing- Students will come up with a unique hashtag phrase to go with what they learned today.

  • 3-2-1 Closing- 3 things they could apply today's lesson to in real life, 2 tips they could give a friend who is trying to learn today's skill, and 1 question they still have

  • 3-2-1- Self-Assessment-3 means I've got this and I can teach it, 2 means I still need practice, and 1 means I am lost and need more teacher group.

If you haven't already, head over and check out our facebook group for Math Workshop Model Teachers by clicking HERE.


What is your favorite part about the workshop model? What is your least favorite part? What questions do you have? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!



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