Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comprehension From The Ground Up - Chapters 1

Not only am I doing a book study this summer on Math Workstations by Debbie Diller but I'm also reading through Comprehension From the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski and dialoging with other teachers through The Daily 5 yahoo group.

I'm finding this book really interesting so far. I'll be headed to Sharon Taberski's workshop tomorrow eveing and I'm sure will learn a lot more to share with everyone then.

Sharon's model of the pillars of reading makes a whole lot of sense. It makes sense that reading, writing, and talking would be foundational for understanding; that each of the pillars would be instrumental in holding up comprehension. Comprehension as one piece of reading does not make sense. Comprehension as the end goal does.

While reading the first chapter I thought a lot about which of the pillars I use in my classroom right now. I don't tend to spend as much time on reading-writing connections as I do on having a repertoire of strategies. I know I need to spend a lot of time on background knowledge. Many of my students don't have a wide variety of experiences to draw from and when I taught kindergarten I took them on many field trips, hoping to fill in gaps and exapand their knowledge of a variety of things. Now teaching first grade I take my students on a handful of field trips each year but I don't give them nearly as much background experience. I give the excuse there's not enough time ... and there isn't. But if background knowledge is as important as Sharon says it is, maybe I should spend a little more time forming it.

I do spend a lot of time helping my students to become accurate/fluent readers. One of my students this past year was showing consistently that he was just below where he should be. I couldn't get him in to get extra help from our resource teacher because I had three others much further behind than him. So I funneled other resources to give this little boy the extra one-on-one direct instruction and review that I knew he needed to pick up the pace. I was able to meet with him to conference one-on-one with his reading four days a week and I requested a volunteer to meet with him twice a week to preview his stories, using echo reading to increase his fluency as well as go through cards of high frequency words. This little boy came up from being consistently just below to reading at the end of the year instructionally at an end of the year second grade level. It's when you work so hard to make a difference that you feel best about what you're doing. Working with this little boy was no exception and when he gave me a letter on the last day of school, tears came to my eyes as I read it.

In case you're having difficulty reading it, the letter says:
Dear Ms. Balek I ben happy wen you were with me and you were nise to me thank you for making me smart and thank you for making me happy. thanks for reading this good bye

According to Taberski, literacy essentials include ...
* Children need us to be their advocates.
* Children need ample opportunities to read widely and across genres, to write texts for others to comprehend, and to engage in thoughtful conversation.
* Children need to read accurately and fluently with comprehension.
* Children need to acquire background knowledge to bring to texts they read.
* Children need to extend their oral language and vocabulary, and capitalize on how they enhance reading comprehension.
*Children need to appreciate not only how reading impacts writing, but how their experience as writers enables them to adopt an insider's stance as they read.
* Children need to acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to help them navigate difficult texts and reconstruct meaning when it breaks down. These strategies should be presented in a developmentally appropriate an systematic way thruoghout the elementary grades.
* Children need to engage in an assortment of carefully selected learning experiences presented in whole-class, small-group, and one-to-one settings.

The quote that I enjoy most from this first chapter is "Children today are learning to read, write, ride bikes, do cartwheels, and ask questions in a world that is more anxious than it was a decade ago. Many adults are not as sure-footed or optimistic as they were in earlier generations, and so all the more reason to teach in a manner that is nurturing and highly responsive to each child."

Blog Design Giveaway

Miss Snowden has reached 400 followers and is celebrating by giving away a blog design to 4 of her followers. Hop on over to Miss Snowden's blog by clicking on her button below and register in her drawing. This is one I would really enjoy winning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Erica's Elementary Excitement is having a give away!

Erica over at Erica's Elementary Excitement is having a give away and it's a big one. Go on over to have four chances to enter to win a $50 gift card to Lakeshore and a $25 gift card to Target.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Math Work Stations Chapters 5

Wow have I got behind ... I started tutoring this past week. It's been really good for me to get back in a structured routine but it has left a lot less time to read, think, and create things related to Math Workstations by Debbie Diller.

I'll include thoughts and activities in this post from Chapter 5 on addition and subtraction and then post again hopefully later this week on Chapter 6 place value.

When I first started blogging I posted some ideas of activities that could be used in the addition/subtraction workstation. One of these ideas I found on teacher tipster. This activity, called Power Towers was one of my students favorites this past year.

I also turned a magnetic dart board into an addition fact practice activity. I've tried three times now to upload a picture of the dart board but each time I do a window pops up saying there's something wrong with internet explorer. Not sure what's going on but I'm not going to upload the picture again. So you'll just have to use your imagination this time. I created two choices of worksheets for students to complete while working using the dart board. At the time I did not create math talk cards but I'm adding them now so if you find a magnetic dart board and would like to use this activity you have some math talk cards to use as well.

Google docs is also being a little funny. They've changed things up and I haven't yet figured out how to embed documents into my blog. Sorry I can't show you the worksheet but if you would like a copy for math dart addition you can click here. If you would like a worksheet where students need to add their own numbers and then compare their score to their partner's score you can click here. You can get math talk cards for this activity here.
I have no idea what's going on with uploading pictures. I can't upload a picture of my math talk card either. If you would like a copy of the math talk cards for your students to use with the dart addition click here.

I've got more to share but I'll share in another post as I'm having so much trouble right now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mrs. Lyons over at Thinking about Teaching is hosting a book study on The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. She has interviewed Donalyn Miller, asking several questions to get to know her better before beginning the study. You can find Donalyn's answers as well as link your own answers to the study by clicking the button below.

1) What is your favourite book (or series) from childhood?
I started reading when I was 4 and have loved reading ever since so it's really difficult to narrow down to just one book or series even. I remember loving all kinds of books when I was really young. I spent quite a deal of time reading Dr. Seuss. When I got a bit older I enjoyed Berenstain Bears. In upper elementary I read a lot of The Babysitter's Club books. In high school I enjoyed Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine.

2) What is your favourite book (or series) now?
I read many different things these days. I read a lot of Christian nonfiction. My interests within fiction include children and young adult novels as well as Christian suspense and fiction. I've really enjoyed the Sisters Grimm series. My favorite novelist is Ted Dekker who has written over 20 Christian fiction novels. Another series I enjoy is the Sullivan Crisp Novels.

3) What is your opinion of e-readers?
Two of my sisters own e-readers and I've heard many good things about them. But like many other people's answers I've read to this question I just can't get into the idea of not holding an actual book ... the feel of the pages. I like knowing how much of the book I've read compared to how much I have left. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make the switch.

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..."
I usually use Sundays to do my planning for the week. I'm already up at school for church and rather than tracking across town every day I stay after church to do my planning. So I can't really say I enjoy doing anything else on Sunday other than joining my church family in worship. On Saturdays I like to sleep in, read with a cup of coffee, and spend time visiting with friends.

5) Describe yourself in 5 words!
thoughtful, compassionate, dependable, reader, teacher

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why?
Paperback is definitely cheaper and so if I have the choice I'll go with paperback. I read very quickly and sometimes can read a novel a week - I can afford more paperback books. However, I've got a few authors I follow that I just cannot wait for their novels to come out in paperback and I'll grab the hard cover as soon as it hits the shelf.

7) Coffee or Tea?
The answer is absolutely positively coffee!

Free Bindergarten Unit today

Laura over at KinderKraziness is sharing her Miss Bindergarten unit today. Go on over and check out her blog.< /a>

Monday, June 13, 2011

Math Work Stations Chapter 4 - Beginning Number Concepts

I started this post almost a week ago now but spent some time creating activities to share. I'm sorry this post is so late in coming ... I went to three days of professional development workshops this week and just ran low on time.
It was really exciting to read through Chapter 4 of Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller and come up with ideas for math work stations in my classroom. Debbie poses some interesting questions for reflection at the end of the chapter.

1. What investigations and partner games can you use or adapt from your core program or trainings your district has provided to develop beginning number concepts stations? Use what you've already got!
I look forward to going through my math curriculum at school now and seeing what I can create now to make the partner games more exciting and organized for my kids come fall. I'm planning on going to school later this week to grab it.
2. What kinds of counting opportunities do your children need next? How can you make these experiences with numbers meaningful and authentic?
I had an aha moment while reading this chapter. I'm not sure I really thought before about children attaching meaning to numbers. I've provided activities in the past that will help them to attach meaning to numbers, I'm just not sure if I've thought about it in this way. I had several students this last year that had difficulty in math and it's leapt out at me while reading this chapter that they may not have had enough experience attaching meaning to math concepts. It helps me to realize that there are more ways to help support students in attaching meaning to numbers.
3. What beginning number concepts stations are currently in use in your classroom? Which are most effice? Why? How do you know?
One activity I have used in the past was using playing cards to practice more than/less than by playing war. I've also had my kids play memory games to match numerals with number words as well as with dot stickers. Reading this chapter has given me so many more ideas to implement as a part of this station.

I have posted my first activity I created to TpT to download for free. This is the first time I have posted anything on TpT so if you have any suggestions please leave them as a comment here.

The first game I created is called Coin Battle. I created a math mat and math talk cards to use with this game. You can use money flash cards already in your classroom. If you do not have any already in your classroom, the sites below have printable flashcards you can download for free.

In order to differentiate this work station I would use different sets of cards depending on the readiness of each student. They could use a set of cards that only have pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters or students could use a set of cards that have mixed coins.

If you would like to download this game click here.

While reading chapter 4 I was thinking about what other ways I represent numbers for my kids. Debbie Diller talked about using base ten blocks to compare numbers. I decided to create some cards to use to practice.

There are many more ideas shared at Kindergarten Crayons. Click on the button below to go there.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Classroom Schedules Linky Party

It's been kind of interesting to see many different schedules these past couple of days through Growing Kinder's linky party ... the lack of time for social studies and science, specials classes, and even center time in kindergarten. I know the big push is for reading and math - it just makes me feel very fortunate to be able to have the schedule I have.

I too morph my schedule from year to year to meet the needs of my kiddos. It changed a lot this past year as I spent more time in Daily 5. Towards the end of the year I changed it to Daily 4 and separated out my writing time. Here's what it looks like at this point.

8:15-8:30 Come in and unpack
8:30-8:45 Morning work and bathroom
8:45-9:10 Daily 4 mini lesson 1 & choice 1 (8:45-9:30 Kids pulled to resource)
9:10-9:35 Daily 4 mini lesson 2 & choice 2
9:35-9:45 Snack & read aloud
9:45-10:10 Daily 4 mini lesson 3 & choice 3
10:10-10:35 Daily 4 mini lesson 4 & choice 4
10:35-11:15 Writing workshop - in small differentiated groups
11:15-11:40 Bible
11:40-12:10 Lunch
12:10-12:40 Recess
12:40-1:00 Calendar math, math olympics, & bathroom
1:00-2:00 3 rotations of mini lesson, math workstations, & small group instruction
2:00-2:40 Science or Social Studies
2:40-2:55 Class Jobs & pack up
3:00 Dismissal

8:15-8:30 Come in and unpack
8:30-9:30 Art
9:30-9:45 Snack & Read Aloud
9:45-10:15 PE
10:15-10:40 Daily 4 mini lesson 1, choice 1
10:40-11:05 Daily 4 mini lesson 2, choice 2
11:05-11:30 Daily 4 mini lesson 3, choice 3
(I usually just stretch things out on Tuesdays so we finish our third choice at 11:40)
11:40-12:10 Lunch
12:10-12:40 Recess
12:40-1:00 Calendar math, math olympics, & bathroom
1:00-2:00 3 rotations of mini lesson, math workstations, & small group instruction
2:00-2:40 Science or Social Studies
2:40-2:55 Class Jobs & pack up
3:00 Dismissal

8:15-8:30 Come in and unpack
8:30-8:45 Morning work and bathroom
8:45-9:10 Daily 4 mini lesson 1 & choice 1 (8:45-9:30 Kids pulled to resource)
9:10-9:35 Daily 4 mini lesson 2 & choice 2
9:35-9:45 Snack & read aloud
9:45-10:10 Daily 4 mini lesson 3 & choice 3
10:10-10:35 Daily 4 mini lesson 4 & choice 4
10:30-11:00 Chapel
11:00-11:40 Writing Workshop - in small differentiated groups
11:40-12:10 Lunch
12:10-12:40 Recess
12:40-1:00 Calendar math, math olympics, & bathroom
1:00-2:00 3 rotations of mini lesson, math workstations, & small group instruction
2:00-2:15 Class Jobs & pack up
2:15-2:55 Music
3:00 Dismissal

8:15-8:30 Come in and unpack
8:30-8:45 Morning work and bathroom
8:45-9:10 Daily 4 mini lesson 1 & choice 1 (8:45-9:30 Kids pulled to resource)
9:10-9:35 Daily 4 mini lesson 2 & choice 2
9:35-9:45 Snack & read aloud
9:45-10:15 PE
10:15-10:40 Daily 4 mini lesson 3 & choice 3
10:40-11:05 Daily 4 mini lesson 4 & choice 4
11:05-11:40 Writing Workshop - w/ small differentiated groups
11:40-12:10 Lunch
12:10-12:40 Recess
12:40-1:00 Calendar math, math olympics, & bathroom
1:00-2:00 3 rotations of mini lesson, math workstations, & small group instruction
2:00-2:40 Science or Social Studies
2:40-2:55 Class Jobs & pack up
3:00 Dismissal

8:15-8:30 Come in and unpack
8:30-8:45 Morning work and bathroom
8:45-9:10 Daily 4 mini lesson 1 & choice 1
9:10-9:35 Daily 4 mini lesson 2 & choice 2
9:35-9:45 Snack & read aloud
9:45-10:00 Daily 4 mini lesson 3 & choice 3
10:00-10:30 Friday Readers (retired volunteers from the community come in and read with our kids)
10:30-10:55 Daily 4 mini lesson 4 & choice 4
10:55-11:40 Writing Workshop - work with small differentiated groups
11:40-12:10 Lunch
12:10-12:40 Recess
12:40-1:00 Calendar math, math olympics, & bathroom
1:00-2:00 3 rotations of mini lesson, math workstations, & small group instruction
2:00-2:15 Shortened science or social studies lesson
2:15-2:40 Freetime Friday - free art or games (I hope next year to keep this somewhat related to what we're learning but have it be a time of free expression of what we've been learning.)
2:40-2:55 Class Jobs & pack up
3:00 Dismissal

We also have a computer room and a library in the school that we can use. I'd like to put time in our schedule for these as well. Probably once a week, alternating weeks but I'm not sure where to fit it in at this point. This past year we went to the library every other week on Mondays and got in one less choice time. But I don't feel committed to that. Any thoughts from my followers?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Math Work Stations Chapter 3

Debbie Diller does a great job in chapter three of outlining ways to manage math work station time. I envision in my room it looking very similar to Daily 5. I believe it will be very important at the beginning of the year to teach the kids what work station time will look like, sound like, and feel like as well as write I can charts together. I will use a T chart similar to what I use for Daily 5 in which we brainstorm together things students will do and things the teacher will be doing during work station time.
At this point I'm thinking the beginning of the year will be exploration as kids begin to build stamina for length of time working quietly in pairs in one place in the room using only one tub. As I begin teaching new concepts, activities I have used to teach will be added to the workstations. I think it is incredibly important to teach the activity before placing it in the workstations and will do so in regular lessons as well as remind kids how to play during mini lessons.
In the past my math schedule has been calendar math followed by three math rotations in which groups of students take turns coming to the teacher, doing practice work, and doing independent work. This next year that schedule will change.
I spend about an hour and 15 minutes on math. I will have three math rotations again of 20 minutes a piece but in between each rotation we will have a math mini lesson. I will teach each of three groups while the other two groups rotate through workstations. The key is going to be the time spent at the beginning modeling, modeling, modeling.
In the past I have not had a board showing kids where to go for their next station. For literacy and the daily 5 I had a table made up that I marked off each kid's choice each day to keep track of where they chose to go and make sure they had made various choices within a week's time.
I think I'll have to do something a little more concrete for math. I kind of like the idea of rotation circle posted by Jayne at KindergartenRhode. I might go with that. Or if someone comes up with something I like more, perhaps I'll change my mind. I'm not sold on any one management board at this point.
I do like the idea of working with a partner at math workstations. I have never had my students work this way before but think it will work well to assign partners for students to work with to give students the opportunity to use Math Talk to talk about what they are working on and learning. I don't see much difference between doing stations this way and teaching students what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like to do read with a partner. I think it will just be important to really train well those first few weeks before starting meeting with small groups.
The thing that I'm really wrestling with is that if I don't start teaching small groups for math right away at the beginning of the year but wait a month much like I do for Daily 5 and reading then how will I ever get through all the concepts I need to cover for math during the year. For reading working in small groups using the Daily 5 I have seen all of my kids grow as readers very quickly many of them moving up by 2 or 3 grade levels within the year at an instructional level using the IRI and I have the freedom at my school not to stick to the curriculum so its no big deal if we don't finish everything. For math I more often stick to the curriculum with what I'm teaching but teach at different speeds to each group depending on their needs. Because of this I feel more pressure to get moving with the material to make sure I make it through all the concepts first graders should learn. The question I'm kind of asking myself is will this not starting right away teaching small groups work the same way it works for reading. And if not how do I need to make up for that in whole group instruction before I am able to start small groups.
I will be using math talk cards and I can posters but am not going to post any here tonight. I've seen a few people already create their own for this linky party and I think I'll go with what someone else has made on this one rather than reinventing the wheel. When we get to some chapters where all our creative juices can be put to use to create new games to work within a concept area, then I'll put more into what I can share with you all. But for now, it's been a long day of listening to a speaker at a workshop, reading blogs, and spending time with friends.

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander

I attended a very interesting conference today on bullying offered by the SNAP program of Special School District. The speaker who came in was Barbara Coloroso, author of the book The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. Although I don't agree with Barbara on some of her fundamental viewpoints, I think much of what she had to say was very helpful and had some truth to it.
In the workshop, Barbara talked about the difference between conflict and bullying and how to treat each one differently.
I agree with the life messages Barbara says children need to hear every day: I believe in you, I trust you, I know you can handle life situations, you are listened to, you are cared for, and you are very important to me. I think these messages are fundamental for kids to understand and know their worth as a child created in the image of God.
Another thing I'm mulling over in my brain is Barbara's insistence of not giving kids rewards for doing a good job or doing the right thing. She says that instead of telling a child you are proud of them you should help them find ways for them to use their gifts. I'm not sure though. I think its good for kids to know you're proud of them - I would think its part of feeling cared for. I think she may have been saying that if they worked hard for something show them your proud but if something comes naturally don't. Instead give them the tools to use that gift to serve others. In this way they will become more intrinsically motivated rather than seeking verbal praise for everything they do. I would go further and say that the reason this is going to be better for the child is because God gives each of us gifts to use in His kingdom to love and serve others. Of course the child is going to feel that internal reward when his or her purpose is being lived out.
Another piece I take from the workshop is Barbara's advice to thank kids for specific things they do and point out to them specifically what impact it has on living things rather than being general about what a good boy or girl or what a good helper they were. I think this is a great way of showing children their dignity and their role in being caretakers of God's creation.
There are a lot more interesting things I still want to sort through and process. We got her book for free by going to the workshop and I'm looking forward to reading it. One more book on my list for this summer ... I don't know if I can do it ... Math Work Stations, Comprehension from the Ground Up, and The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander. That's a whole lot of reading and processing. I did notice at Amazon that you can get used copies of the books really cheap so if you're interested just click on the picture above and it's linked straight there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tables vs. Desks

Kristen over at Ladybug Teacher Files is having a linky party to share ideas on using tables vs. desks in the classroom.

When I taught kindergarten a few years back I used tables. I used drawers to store their community supplies and they kept their individual things like journals and a folder in the back of a pocket seat cover thing my mom made for my classroom. I don't have many pictures from that year but you can see in this picture two of the three tables I had and the seat covers over the chairs. There was a bookshelf on against the wall between these two tables where I kept the small drawers of supplies.I've been teaching first grade for the past two years. The first year I kept the same basic room arrangement as the previous first grade teacher and had desks. Our rooms are fairly narrow and there was only one way I could arrange the desks having 16 students. And there was not much room to move. I spent a lot of time that year teaching my kids how to keep their desks neat inside and it worked pretty well for most of them. Only the really messy kids had trouble.

This past year I decided to switch to tables and used the tables I could find within the building - which wasn't much. I now have a kidney table and a rectangle table in my room. It provides much more room to walk around and when I meet with my small groups I meet at the kidney table. Having a much smaller class size next year I'll probably move things around again, but I'm not quite sure how.
This year I had 16. Seven students were able to sit at the kidney table and six sat at the rectangle table. I also have a table that I placed at the back of the room for the math area. There are four stools up to this table and the remaining three kids sat at this table when doing their work. I originally planned on starting the year with kids choosing where they want to sit to work ... the whole less seats than kids theory, but I just couldn't get it to work. There were too many times I wanted everyone's eyes and the dimensions of the room made it difficult for this to happen. I might try again next year. This year I tried getting everyone's attention using a clapping pattern. Then they would repeat back to me. I'd like to try a call and response activity like Jenn Bates uses over at Finally in First. Having this in place I think would help if kids are more spread out through the room.
We use drawers for kids to store all the materials that would normally go in their desks. You can see them in the background of this picture.
For the past couple of years I have continued to have community supplies in a centrally located area of the room. I buy supplies at the beginning of the year with my classroom budget so in the past this has seemed the most natural way to handle them. However, I get frustrated by the lack of ownership kids feel over the supplies and therefore how much supplies get trashed. I would like students to have their own supplies next year which they must replenish by "buying" from me using their Balekbucks they earn by turning in homework and doing their class jobs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Reorganizing for Math Workstations

During the past two days at school I have finished reorganizing my math closet and have been working on organizing my science closet. Here's my math closet and math area before reorganization.

As you can see, my closet was already mostly organized. There were a few concepts I did not have tubs for and others where the tubs were not the right size.

This is my math corner where my math manipulatives were stored last year. There are also math books and math games. It is a bit of a mess and I look forward to only having out next year what the kids need to do the stations they are working with.

This table is located in my math corner. It doubled as a third seating area for my students this last year. Next year I will have quite a bit less kids in my class and won't need to use this table in the same way. I plan on setting up my computers on top. The drawers underneath were used to store other manipulatives as well as math activities students worked on during their independent math rotation.

Next year I plan on using the drawers as my stations. Kids can remove the drawers and take them to other areas of the classroom.

I bought the clipart from Scrappin' Doodles. Click on the picture below for the link to this clipart at Scrappin' Doodles.

I also reorganized my closet. All I need now are a few more labels.

I'm not sure at this point if or how I'll use the bookshelf in the math corner. I may use it to attract kids to the math area similarly to Debbie Diller shows on page 35 of her book. Or I may move it to a different area of the room and use it for something else. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller

I am really excited for all the learning I'm going to be doing this summer! I'm participating in two book group discussions; on math work stations and Sharon Taberski's new book Comprehension from the Ground Up. I'll be attending several PD workshops offered by the special school district of St. Louis. I might also have the opportunity to attend Sharon Taberski's workshop on July 6th. I just heard about this last opportunity this morning and I'm hoping it works out.

I've never done one of these linky party things but I'm really excited about this book and how I can teach math more like Daily 5. I think by blogging my ideas it will give me a chance to really think through what I want to do and plan to do and hopefully by entering my voice into the discussion that will not only help me but also maybe help a few others. I've been teaching math within a workshop model for the past two years but my work stations have been more like centers than stations and not quite organized enough.

To follow the discussion of chapters 1 & 2 link over to Mrs. Wills Kindergarten by clicking on the button below.

Here's my thoughts ...

In figure 1.2 on p16 Debbie shares the differences between work stations and centers.
1) Materials are used by the teacher and students during instruction first. ... I do this most of the time. But because I teach three different math groups at different levels of instruction and often times on completely different concepts because they are ready to move on at different rates, there are often items in the math area for independent use that not all of my kids know how to use. I like the idea of differentiating materials within the station area. My class is relatively small compared to most classes (topping out any year at 18 - next year my class size right now is around 10) so I might be able to have some stations designated for each group and a few to share with differentiation within the station box.
2) Stations do not change weekly. I already do this. Although sometimes I keep too much at the station and just add more. I've seen this past year with some kids that when having too many choices, kids are overwhelmed and can't make a choice at all.
3) All students go to workstations daily. For the past two years what I've done is have a rotation with three different groups of students: the red, the blue, and the orange. Each group would take a turn with me, doing independent work, and doing practice work which was part of or the whole worksheet that went along with the lesson I taught. I'm a little hesitant to go completely away from worksheets. I realize that hands on learning is integral to understanding and retaining what each child learns but I wrestle with taking away worksheets completely and kids not knowing how to answer questions through that media when needed.
4) Materials are differentiated for students. This has been a struggle in the past - I look forward to maybe doing the different boxes for different groups idea and differentiating by colored sticker within shared boxes.
5) Teacher observes individuals at work or meets with small math groups. Done.

For the past two years I have kept my math stations on a book shelf and under a table at the back of my room. Hopefully a video I created at the beginning of this past school year will upload so you can see what it looked like before it began morphing this school year. I have a small space in my room and its actually a large room that was once two rooms so it still has a divider in the middle and is awkward in creating little spaces because it is so narrow and does not have so much wall space. I hope to change up a little how I organize my math work station area for next year. I will probably use this same book shelf but put the stations in numbered containers rather than just putting all the manipulatives out and expecting the students to remember what to do with them. Because I have less students next year than I had this year I hope to move my computers to the tall table and have them available more often next year with math and word games.

There is a closet right next to this space in which I have organized all my math materials. I'm naturally a very organized person and like to keep things that way. So I have all my materials already sorted by topic and in bins that are easily stackable. My problem comes when things don't fit in the bins and I have to put them next to the bin, then I usually forget that I have them.

I don't have any pictures of my math area right now and it's not a very good time to take them since I am in the process of cleaning up and putting away everything in my room. Maybe I'll take some and upload later.