Math learning centers or stations are areas of the classroom set up for students to work with peers using instructional material and manipulative material. This differentiated learning environment allows students to engage in problem solving, collaboration, and discussion around mathematical concepts.
Differentiated instruction is a teaching practice that ensures all students are actively engaged in the learning process. Not all students are alike and teaching to the “middle” is no longer an acceptable teaching practice. Differentiated instruction requires teachers to be flexible in their teaching approach and to adjust the presentation of information. Learning Centers allow teachers to facilitate differentiated instruction by grouping students in a meaningful way.
The structure of learning centers allows the instructor to observe students at work and assist individuals or small Groups as necessary. In his book called Teaching with the Brain in Mind (1998), Eric Jensen writes about the best ways to get and hold the brain’s attention. According to his research, one of the easiest ways to recapture a student’s attention is a change of location. These work stations provide that change of scenery and re-focus the students on the task at hand.
Each MANGO Math game or activity can be used as a learning center activity. There is no hassle; the students simply choose a game and grab the bag containing all of the necessary materials. All of the pieces are re-usable and sustainable, so you never have to worry about replacing consumables or printing new worksheets. The activities are designed for 2-4 students and take 10-15 minutes, the most common allotted time per math station. But there is also always flexibility in expanding or deepening the game for more focused students.
MANGO Math curriculum is organized by the five main math strands; Measurement, Algebra, Number Sense, Geometry and Odds & Order (Data Gathering and Probability). Organizing stations can be as easy as working on a specific strand or working across strands to touch on a number of different skills at once. But no one lesson is dependent upon another and lessons can be selected in any order. If you have access to crates from multiple grade levels, lessons from another crate, either a grade higher or a grade lower, can be included to help with differentiating the lessons based on the students’ skills. None of the lessons have grade levels written on them so students do not know if they are practicing a skill that is not a current grade level standard. Most teachers will color code the plastic bags to ensure the games end up in the right crates.