MATH CENTER GUIDE – How to make math centers easy and independent

MAKING MATH CENTERS EASY TO USE FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

Math Centers provide a wonderful opportunity for students to practice skills and strategies that they learned during regular class instruction.  It helps students learn independence, collaboration, cooperation and creative thought.

I will go through some helpful tips on how best to set up these centers.

How to make students independent during MANGO Math Center time

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1. Always Model the lessons

MANGO Math has made it easy to read through what the math is about in the lesson and then gives step by step directions, if you want more than that we have YouTube videos of almost all the lessons

  • Modeling gets student familiar with the expectations and cuts down on students saying they don’t know what to do or not actually learning the necessary skill.  There are two different types of modeling
    • Teacher – Student Model – you pretend you are a student and you act out how to play with “thinking out loud”
    • Student – Student Model – choose 2 or 3 student to preform the activity and you guide them in the activity. “what should he do next”.

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2. Clear Directions with Pictures

After modeling students you will find those students who get to the game and say, “What are we supposed to do?”.  That is where you need clear directions with pictures that they can follow.  MANGO Math provides that, simple step by step directions with images on how to play the game.  This also allows students to collaborate on what they understood from the modeling and from the written directions.

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3. Grouping Students 

The centers are set up for 2 to 4 students.  Having a student with higher math skills be the head of each center to start is a good idea when working throught the directions and making sure students are learning the skill.  After students have the rules of the game down then matching students according to ability becomes appropriate.  Allowing the students to work with a partner is helpful as it allows student to cooperate and they start to discuss mathematics at a deeper level.

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4. Provide math discussion questions

Encourage students to review and discuss math questions at the end of each activity or game.  MANGO Math provides guided questions that help to deepen math understanding as well as creative thinking.  It isn’t just “I won” and now the game is over and move on.  It is about what did you learn during the game.

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5. Keep the Routine the Same just change the games

This is how centers become independent activities.  Once the student learns the routine then changing the games becomes easier and students start to take the initiative to either watching the modeling more closely or reading the directions more clearly.  Also helps students become more effective in their collaborating on how to approach the game.

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6. Self Checking 

These games require self-checking or group checking. The competitive nature of the name should require the students to check each other’s work to progress accurately.  Educator should walk around the centers to make sure there isn’t questions or problems with the self-checking.  Educators can provide students with a record book where students write down what they learned and samples of their work, this serves to make sure students are accountable and provides an informal assessment.

Answer Keys – many of these games do not have answer keys, there is no ability to know what problems students will have because many of the games use dice, spinners, and cards that generate random numbers. This is why group checking becomes so important.

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7. End of Centers Sharing Time

Close the math center time with a share what they learned time.  Randomly select students to share a favorite game or to provide feedback on what they saw worked and what did not.  This helps student become independent because there might be the opportunity to share and it also provided crucial feedback to the instruction on what the students got out of their center time.

 

Learn more about MANGO Math Curriculum

 

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