My Top 2 Math Workshop Books Every Teacher Should Read - Miss Clark's Spoonful

My Top 2 Math Workshop Books Every Teacher Should Read

True story: As a child, I had terrible math anxiety. 

I didn't "get" math. There was a definite gap in my concrete and abstract understanding of concepts, and I had to work really hard to understand traditional algorithms.

As a high schooler, there was lots of extra help after school, and too many late nights around the dining room table shedding tears over my homework.

If I had lots of hands-on materials and visuals, I totally would have been better with my multiplication facts (and lots more!).

If you would have told the younger Erin that math would be one of her favorite parts about being a teacher, she would have laughed in your face. But here we are... it's true!


1. Math Workshop in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton

Here's a snapshot at the structure of math workshop, that Dr. Newton guides you through setting up!

Mini-Lessons are concise and engaging, providing a clear and direct introduction to the day’s learning objectives.

Independent Work involves students practicing the concepts and skills introduced, and working at their own pace.

Small Group Instruction allows teachers to provide targeted support to students in flexible groups.

Math Centers are stations set up around the classroom that are hands-on, and give students practice with a variety of math concepts.

Reflection and Sharing is a time when students come together to discuss their learning experiences and share their work.

Doesn't it sound MAGICAL?

Why Math Workshop in Action is Essential for Teachers

You'll learn how to set up and conduct your math workshop, + more.

1. Practical Strategies: Dr. Nicki Newton is A. MAZING. She provides a wealth of practical strategies that you can implement immediately! From setting up the classroom environment to managing small group instruction, the book offers step-by-step guidance to make the math workshop model work in any classroom.

2. Student Engagement: The workshop model is designed to engage students actively in their learning. By incorporating hands-on activities, games, and collaborative tasks, the magic of the workshop model is brought to math instruction! It's really exciting to read about how to create a dynamic and interactive math block where students are motivated and excited to learn.

3. Differentiated Instruction: One of the key strengths of a math workshop model is its ability to accommodate diverse learning needs! You'll learn strategies for differentiating instruction, ensuring that all students, from struggling learners to advanced students, receive the support and challenge they need.

4. Focus on Conceptual Understanding: Rather than relying solely on rote memorization and procedural skills (because, UGH), the math workshop model emphasizes deep conceptual understanding. Dr. Newton offers techniques to help students grasp underlying mathematical concepts, fostering a profound and lasting understanding of math!

2. Mathematics Tasks for the Thinking Classroom by Peter Liljedahl and Maegan Giroux

Don't you wish you could just wave your magic wand, and create a learning environment where students are not just passive recipients of information but active participants in the learning process?

We might not have those magic wands (YET - can someone get on that, please?), but this book is about the closest thing.

To give you a better understanding of how the thinking classrooms concepts can be implemented, here are the key components of the thinking classroom model as outlined by Peter Liljedahl:

Rich Mathematical Tasks promote deep thinking and problem-solving. These tasks should be open-ended, allowing for multiple entry points and various solution strategies.

Student Collaboration fosters a sense of community and allows students to learn from one another. Group work also helps students develop essential social and communication skills.

Non-Permanent Surfaces such as whiteboards or chart paper, are essential for students to work on. They allow students to easily make changes, take risks, and think more freely without the fear of making mistakes.

Student Autonomy, or allowing students to choose how they approach and solve problems, is empowering! It also helps develop problem-solving skills.

Facilitating Discussion rather than simply just giving the "right answer," encourages students to explain their thinking, justify their solutions, and learn from one another.

Why Mathematics Tasks for the Thinking Classroom is Essential for Teachers

1. Evidence-Based Strategies: Rooted in research, this book provides strategies that have been teacher-tested and proven effective in real classrooms! Liljedahl’s methods are based on his extensive studies of how students learn and engage with mathematics.

2. Student Engagement: By focusing on rich mathematical tasks in a supportive environment that promotes deep thinking, students are motivated and actively engaged. The tasks are designed to be challenging yet accessible, encouraging all students to participate.

3. Developing Critical Thinking: The thinking classroom approach emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students are encouraged to explore multiple solutions, make connections, and think creatively about mathematical problems.

4. Collaborative Learning: Liljedahl advocates for collaborative learning, where students work together to solve problems and share ideas. It's always fun to see students learn from each other and develop teamwork skills!

Yay for the workshop model, and for critical thinking! As you integrate the strategies from these books into your teaching practice, you’ll empower your students to become confident, independent thinkers, setting them on a path to success in math and beyond.

AND, they might even have a little bit of fun in the meantime!

Happy reading,

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