I just finished walking my dog and walking her early in the morning is a nice quiet time where I do some of my best thinking. This morning my mind wandered to my work with the book, That Workshop Book by Samantha Bennett and I realized this workshop thinking she does, does not just apply to literacy. I've known this and use it during Math Workshop and Worktime, where we focus on our content learning. However, if I was picking up Samantha's book for the first time and reading through her examples they are focused on literacy and bigger questions related to content.
There are a lot of books on activities, manipulative work, children's literature to use, and math content. Marilyn Burns and the group Math Solutions probably come the closest to framing their work and their intentions with Samantha Bennett. One could easily take the first chapter Why Workshop? and think about mathematics.
Just yesterday, I used the "Workshop as a Cyclical Structure" (chart found on pg. 9) to organize our work and introduction with coin recognition. I set the purpose during a mini lesson telling the students we wanted to revisit our learning about sorting and talk about a collection of coins I had for each one. The students worked with a partner to talk and make meaning while I conferred with partners to see their understandings. I found many of them were thinking and working too hard, caught up in putting types of coins together and calling that a size sort. While that is a way to sort coins by the type of coin, referring it to size was working harder not smarter. As we debriefed, I had partners share how they sorted and I modeled these sorts quickly at the carpet. I wanted the children to see size and use sizing vocabulary, small and big creating a two category sort. Consider taking these ideas to other content areas outside literacy, and even to our special area teachers. It seems to fit best practice for all.
A side note, my collection of coins was made up of real, plastic, and paper which led to other sorting possibilities for the students. They also thought about color and the properties of shiny and dull.
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