"Remember the word problem we did this morning?" asked Fletcher Elementary School teacher Shannon Osborne to a small group of first-graders. "I have 10 people coming to my house. Four are girls. How many are boys? I want you to show me in pictures how you would solve this problem."
The students began drawing a solution on their white boards.
"I like that I'm seeing you draw math mountains. We are missing a math partner that we need to find in the equation, 4 plus what number equals 10? What is the highest number to put on top of your mountain?"
Fletcher Elementary School first-graders Julia Smith and Katie David play a math game during their math workstations.
"Ten," said a student.
"What is the lowest number to put on the mountain?"
"Let's count together, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10," said Mrs. Osborne as she and the students drew dots up the math mountain. "How many is that?"
"Six boys," said a student.
Mrs. Osborne worked with a skills group during Math Workstations. All first-grade students participate in math workstations two times a week for 45 minutes. The workstations are small group instruction that target specific skill sets in response to common formative assessments and are data-driven. Each station runs from three to 15 minutes and skills such as mixed addition and subtraction, word problems, math facts, time, geometric shapes and enrichment opportunities are just a few of the different stations used to develop students' math skills. Students work in small groups independently while the teacher runs a guided math workstation on specific skills for that small group.
"I like math a lot because my dad helps me with it at home," said first-grader Skylar Philbrick. "I really like the math card workstation. I want to be a math teacher when I grow up just like Mrs. Osborne."
"I like the time workstation," said first-grader Celeste Roberts. "It's fun to learn and figure out the answers to math questions. I want to be a dentist when I grow up, so I need to learn math to go to college."
The math workstations are in addition to 60-minute daily Math Expressions curriculum.
"We want students to express themselves verbally, in writing and in pictures," said Mrs. Osborne. "By giving them different ways to solve math, students learn problem-solving techniques that will help them become better math students."
The math workstations are created based on teacher's studying data to see where an individual student, and the class as a whole, needs extra help. The teachers group the students by skill levels and study the data on each student every two to three weeks to re-group based on progress or continued challenges.
"The students love the math workstations and get so excited to do them," said first-grade teacher Teresina Isabella. "They are great hands-on practice to what they are learning in class. The other day one of my students worked with fellow first-grade teacher Mr. Emley doing the 100s chart and he couldn't believe how much they knew as first graders and how excited they were to count."