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Differentiation is the process through which teachers are meeting the needs of all students. Instruction is organized and flexible to maximize growth of the learner by addressing the variety of learning styles, students’ readiness, and interest levels. Providing different modalities of learning allows students the opportunities to experience, conceptualize, analyze and apply meaning to their learning experience. Varying modalities, as defined by Howard Gardner, include linguistic, logical, musical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.
There are four elements for successful differentiation in my classroom. These elements include behavior management, time management, tiered activities with a variety of strategies, and flexible groupings.
Math instruction can be differentiated to allow students to practice skills appropriate to their readiness levels. I’ve changed my approach to differentiating math instruction through work stations. Debbie Diller, author of Math Work Stations, does a magnificent job at helping teachers understand how to organize, manage, maintain, differentiate, and assess various math concepts.
Math work stations are strategically designed areas set up around the room where students discuss their mathematical thinking. Unlike math centers which rotate each week with a new topic, math work stations often remain for multiple weeks as students reinforce or extend prior instruction and develop their understanding through problem solving.
Concepts are often introduced whole group and modeled multiple times. Working with concepts during small group instruction helps reinforce practice. Once a concept has been reinforced with the teacher facilitating, the materials can be placed in work stations allowing the teacher to observe and interact with students working on mathematical topics.
Allowing students a choice is an important component to ensure success during math work stations. As topics are developed during instruction, adding the new activity to the station will provide a “controlled choice”. Providing a limited number of resources will keep the students from becoming overwhelmed.
Patience and perseverance are required to differentiate effectively. All students deserve appropriate differentiated instruction in math so to demonstrate their strengths and talents. This challenging process needs time to adapt and grow as the classroom community matures in content knowledge.
About the Author
Cheryl Saoud is a second grade teacher from Jacksonville, Florida. She would like to invite you to visit www.primarygraffiti.blogspot.com for additional teaching resources.
This is an awesome book! I can’t wait to put all of this to work in my kindergarten classroom!
I have been using Everyday Mathematics in my kindergarten class but have been given the opportunity to “spice things up”. My first thought was to create math work stations! The levels of my students interest and readiness are on a wide spectrum. Using work stations will allow my students to really practice these concepts and master the skills! Every student deserves to learn, and my job is to support that process. With these ideas and guidance, i can feel confident in effectively doing just that.
I am trying a more wholistic way of teaching math this year through a program called “Math the Teachable Moment” and I think the Debbie’s idea for math work stations would fit in quite nicely with this program.
I have used Debbie’s Literacy Work Stations book. I wasn’t even aware she had a math stations book. I will definitely to check that out. She has some great ideas!
I am a first year teacher and I’m looking for some great new ways to differentiate in the classroom. I feel that math is especially tough to do this with, but I know that Debbie Diller knows just how to do it and I would love to learn from the best!!
I will be graduating with my Elementary Education Degree with a minor in Special Education within the year. I would greatly appreciated such a fantastic book to add to my collection. I am hoping to teach in a K-2 inclusion classroom, which would definately warrent differentiated instruction for most of the main subjects (Math and Reading). The classroom I am currently working in would could also benefit from using new techniques in Math Differentiated Centers. This book is something that every teacher needs to have avaialble in thier classroom..
I use workstations during my literacy time and math time. Students work with a partner. They use compound word puzzles, spelling read, stamp, and write. They play sight word games like Popcorn words and wow words, and lace-a-word. For math I have work stations to reinforce addition, subtraction, counting, base 10 blocks, ordinal numbers etc. I also have science and social studies workstations. One science station is on weather. The students really stay engaged during the day. I love them.
Just did a quick look through this book last night…I got some great ideas to help with our School improvement goals: Increasing Math Number sense. OH my gosh my math cupboards look like the BEFORE pictures in the books. It has inspired me to start PHASE ONE….organization of the math cupboard into workstations. This book would be a great guide. Looking forward to using some of these ideas with my Math Smart STations in my Kindergarten room.
WEndy – !4 years of molding young minds in K- 3 classrooms
I’ve been off for over a year on maternity leave and am having trouble getting my math stations up and going. I would use Debbie’s book to get it going a.s.a.p.
I am a first year teacher. I am still trying to figure things out! Any help is always wonderful. I was hired right before school started and did not receive any summer training. So I have just been figuring things out as I go. 😉
I taught preschool for 10 years and kindergarten for 4 years and know the value of stations. Now I am in third grade and I KNOW these guys would greatly benefit from practicing math skills at stations versus whole class teaching. Our district has had low math scores for state testing. Something needs to change. I want to bring stations to third grade!!
I would level the playing field for my kiddos! I am a first year teacher and I want to support and engage my students in learning in any way possible. I LOVE Math and I want to inspire my kiddos to share the same sentiment. Not to fear Math, but to be curious!
I currently tutor 1st and 2nd graders in math after school. I am struggling with activities and would use this book to help my small group!!
Even though its for K-2, I could REALLY use some ideas on how to integrate math into my preschoolers day!!!! This book would be a great help:)
It’s so difficult trying to meet everyone’s needs in a half-day program. I have student that are very math capable and those that are challenged in math. This book would provide me with the support I need to differentiate for all my young learners.
Right now I’m trying to figure out the best way to help my students in mathematics. This is a struggle at times but I know through effective teaching including work stations that young people can wrap their minds around difficult concepts and be successful. I know this book would help me be more effective and help me to not only change how I look at mathematics but my students as well! Thank you!
I would use the math stations to help in fully implementing RTI groups for all levels.
I have such a wide range of abilities in my first grade this year and I believe this book would help me differentiate and meet individual needs better!
I would use this book during my 30 minute Centers block as an add on to Everyday Math. I’ve always struggled with creating stations that were meaningful for students and ones they could manage independently. Many of my students struggle with Math concept and these discovery activities will probably help me to reach these students.
I would use this to help my 5th grade students. My students are at least 1-2 grade levels below where they should be at. This would help me with getting them back on track with learning. If I can break the standard down into stations or centers for them it is easier for them.
With such a wide range of mathematical ability in every classroom, this book would be a great tool for reaching every learner!
Math games, to explore as small group and individually!! Yeah, I want a guide to help me be successful in setting up more interactive Math centers
Debbie Diller’s work is always top notch! I would love to be able to add this to my professional library to help me implement math stations successfully. This is a new goal of mine, and I would love the extra help and ideas!
I want to incorporate Math Work Stations into my math block, but I have no idea how!! I have such a wide range of abilities in my classroom and I think Math Work Stations would help me to effectively reach all of them.
I have been using guided reading successfully for so long, why have I not been using guided math and math work stations? I’ve started this year and I’m loving it and so are my students. They are all working at their own level. I’ve been working really hard putting things together and getting organized. Hopefully, things will go a lot more smoothly after I have been at this longer.
I recently started to implement cognitively guided instruction into my math curriculum. When I am working with small groups of students I would love to have some useful activities that the other students could be working on. This book sounds like what I am looking for.
I would use Debbie Diller’s book to enhance my instruction and use small groups for differentiated instruction. I’m always looking for new ideas to excite my students about Math.
Have been toying with the idea of math stations in my 3rd grade class. This is my first year teaching collab class and need some ideas to help the students keep a constant review of concepts taught. They seem to forget the concepts once we test it, I am hoping by using math stations I can have them practice concepts continuously throughout the year and help them remember the concepts taught.
I would love to learn how to use math stations in my classroom. I teach third grade at in inner city school here in Ohio and I have children who are at all levels in math. I loved the part of the article that read ” Unlike math centers which rotate each week with a new topic, math work stations often remain for multiple weeks as students reinforce or extend prior instruction and develop their understanding through problem solving.” I have heard so much of Debbie Dillar and would love an opportunity to win her book and USE her book in my classroom. Thanks for the article!
I have been toying with the idea of started math stations with my third graders. This is my first year teaching a collab class and need some ideas on how to keep a constant review of concepts going in my class. Once we test it they seem to forget it, I am hoping rotating stations with concpets from the past will help them retain the concepts previously taught.
I am looking for ways to diifferentiate instruction for my kindergarten students. This book will be a great resource .
I am a reading and math interventionist for grades 6-8. I also teach one section of 8th grade girls algebra. I am looking for ideas for math centers/work stations for all of my classes. Many of the centers that I’ve seen are geared for primary grades. I would love to be able to modify these Debbie Diller resources for my students!
This looks like a great way to help differentiate learning for all my students.
As a first year teacher I would love to incorporate math stations to engage my range of first grade learners.
I started teaching a new curriculum this year. One new focus is on incorporating STEM activities into our daily activities. I have noticed that my students have difficulty applying skills they have learned to solve problems. Because of this, I spend a lot of time working with my students in small group. I would love to use Debbie Diller’s book to help my students learn to become independent thinkers using math.
I am implementing cognitively guided instruction in my math curriculum for the first time this year. When I am working with small groups of students I would love to have some other activities that the other students could be working on. Sounds like this might be just the thing!!!
I am currently developing math stations to use with my fifth graders as part of a school wide initiative. I think the use of stations will help me meet the individual needs of my students. The use of stations and small group differentiated will help my students succeed!
I am looking for new ideas for teaching Math for my 3rd graders. I teach Special Education so need to spend more time with some concepts to make sure the students fully understand. I thought something like Math work stations or guided Math may work?
I am trying to create some independent math work stations aligned with the common core that are differentiated and engaging for students. Debbie Diller’s book would be a wonderful resource to help me better meet students’ needs.
Would be a great resource to maximize RTI and enrichment experiences for all levels if learners.
I love Debbie Diller’s books, She gives practical advice.
It would be great to have this resource to maximize both RTI and enrichment activities for small groups and individuals.
We have a mandatory time for small groups for math 30 minutes each day. We are doing a 3-tiered system just like in reading. This book would really help me make sure I have the right management tools in place as well as give me yet more ideas for my math stations and to have materials to work with my groups. I absolutely love her books for reading and have referred back to them for many things. This book would just put me right on top!
It would be great to have this book to maximize Both RTI and enrichment activities!
60 percent of my students are performing below grade level this year in math. I have completely had to rethink my way of teaching. Cooperative groups and the children learning from eachother has been wonderful so far this year. Mrs. Diller’s book is on my Christmas list this year!
I love Debbie Diller! I use her Literacy Work Stations book in my first grade classroom and would love to have a book on math work stations. With the new common core standards in math, children are expected to do more than ever before. Having a resource for engaging, developmentally appropriate activities would be a huge help!
I teach small groups and my students are always in need of a different way to learn things and no two students ever need the same things. I’ve been working a lot with reading stations and have created a lot, but I’ve run out of energy and time to get creative with math. I could use the ideas.
Math hands on exploration, is an amazing way for my students to enjoy math while learning. Debbie Diller,has wonderful suggestions that any teacher would be able to use.
I would use this book to supplement our Investigations math curriculum. I have heard great things about Debbie Diller!
Feel that students should have every opportunity to explore Math. By creating Math stations, to be used in small group rotations, not only allows introduction, but practice and review of Math concepts for all students.
I am in the process of trying to revamp all my centers to be differentiated. My class is really struggling with the new math curriculum. I would LOVE to incorporate activities to help reinforce skills. I have very limited resources with all the budget cuts/freezes. This would be a great resource that I would share with my team members.
This is my first year teaching first grade and I have been having trouble doing small groups and centers. I have talked with my Principal and we both thought using the Debbie Diller Math Station would be a great idea. I just haven’t had the money to buy the book. I would use the book to set up math centers and teach the whole grade level what we could do. Since I have taught second and third, as well, I would probably help other grade level set up math centers in their rooms.
I teach a k/1combination class and have tried many times to order this book..it is always out of stock! I do math stations and would love to have this book to create new ones and better manage them. I would like to align them to the common core standards.
I have actually looked at this book multiple times but haven’t bought it yet! I would love to use it for math tubs or to do math centers a couple days a week to review the skills my students have learned.
I would use math stations to provide individual practice
I already incorporate centers but if I had this book I could have better math centers or even use the book for RTI.
Math stations are beginning to and will continue to help my students develop the skills needed in math but are also helping me differentiate lessons for my learners.
Debbie Diller’s math workstations would allow time for my students to work independently on current skills while I switch between groups. My classroom has two grade levels (ESE, self-contained K and 1st). It’s very hard to ensure my students have ability appropriate work to perform either independently or in small peer groups that doesn’t require my assistance, can be fun (engaging!) and academic. Currently, the way my time “works” has made reaching both of my math groups a major challenge. Currently, I’m missing the mark and could REALLY use the help… Debbie Diller’s math workstations would really help!
I think that math work stations would be great for the period after math when the special ed kids return to my room. I would love varied stations of all levels to engage my learners that are anywhere from a 3rd grade level to a 9th grade level. Differentiation is what is being enforced heavily and with my many leveled learners it is hard for me to find things that will engage them all. This would be awesome for my room!
I teach a 2nd grade with an Enrichment Cluster Group– identified G/T students in my class where I need to differntiate across the board! Stations/rotation are the best way for me to do a guided math model with them. Enriching for some- reteaching for others. Kathleen in NJ
I am trying to use Math Centers for the first time with my fifth graders this year. Giving up control of every aspect of the classroom is a challenge for me but I am working through it. I think a book like this even if it is geared toward younger students can help me with the organization and management of centers/stations.
I would love to find a way to “do small groups” in a way that my administration would approve of!!!! This might be it!!!!! So excited for a chance to learn more!!!!
We’re doing a lot with formative and summative assessments this year. Using the ideas from Math Work Stations, I could meet with and reinforce skills that I see need boosting during formative assessments. We have a Power/Game Day built into our weekly schedule and I need some fresh ideas for that, as well.
I like Cheryl’s idea of adding activities to the stations as they are taught in whole or small group instruction. I tend to teach them all and then run them as centres. I’m about to begin Number Sense so I will try this approach instead and leave my geometry centres intact until I have taught more Number Sense.
I would use this book to help restructure my centers and give my kids centers that they actually learn from. I love Debbie Diller!
I am always in need of new ideas especially for Math stations and i believe this book would do just that!
I would love to incorporate work stations into my math instruction. With 36 students at varying levels of math, work stations would really enhance differentiation and ensure all students are meeting the core standards.
I use workstations to maximize one-on-one and small group time. Everyone is working on their own level, which allows me to step in and work with individuals as needed. I could definitely use some new ideas, though!
We use Investigations in our classroom and I think this would be a wonderful resource to add more depth to our students inquiry.
I would us this book to make great math centers to use during our math center time.
I have been very interested in workstations lately. I am finding that my main curriculum is not enough for my third graders- for some it is too easy and for others- there are missing links in their learning that makes it too hard. I am wondering how teacher implement workstations and teach their curriculum at the same time? Would love to read the book and try it out!
I’d use this book to further differentiate my math workshop. I’m always in need of ideas and management tips for math. I always find it to be a hectic time of the day. Debbie Diller’s Literacy Work Stations book was instrumental in developing and organizing my readers’ workshop. I’m sure this “math version” won’t disappoint!
I would use Debbie’s Math Work Stations in conjunction with her Literacy Work Stations to maximize my half day schedule.
Hi Debbie. I’ve been out of the classroom for 11 years to raise my babies and am now back in the classroom. I would LOVE to incorporate the ideas that you have in your book to meet the needs of all of my students. I am ALWAYS looking for ideas to reach/challenge them. THank you for this opportunity.
I am just leanring to navigate work stations for my 5th grade math students this year. With such a wide variety of learners it is a great way to meet the needs of all my students. I could definitely use some new ideas of how to run these successfully and ideas for the stations. Since I am the only one teaching math at my school any outside ideas is extremely helpful!