How to Run Math Workshop in your Classroom

Math workshop is a way to structure your math block so that students get repetitious practice on multiple skills. Students can be found in various centers working on different tasks for a pre-determined amount of time. They then switch to other groups and eventually work in a small group with the teacher on the focus skill for the day.

How to Run Math Workshop in your ClassroomThis post will outline the math workshop process while also sharing tried-and-true tips and resources.

The Promise

Math workshop aims to provide students with additional practice on previously learned material while also learning new content. This has proven to increase one’s knowledge base in stored memory due to multiple rounds of practice. Because of this, students are performing better on assessments and retaining precursory math skills as they move up through the grade levels.

The Purpose

The workshop model replaces the outdated instructional model of teaching students a new math concept each day. Students have varying learning needs and whole group direct instruction wasn’t helping them be successful. Also, by learning a new concept daily, students were forgetting past concepts. The workshop model aims to keep old skills fresh while learning new ones.

The Parts

There’s flexibility in what skills or activities you use in math workshop. Below is an example of typical parts to the math workshop:

  • Mini Lesson– The teacher introduces the new math skill for the day in 20 minutes or less, providing a model example and assistance in a group practice
  • Small Group with the Teacher– The teacher meets with 1-2 small groups of students who need help on the same skill
  • Self-Checking Centers– Students move from center to center when the bell rings to complete different activities of previously learned skills with their peers
  • Discussion– The teacher leads a closing discussion about the skills practiced during math workshop

You can also include an independent work station for students. This can be used for memorization practice, informal assessment, or personalized practice on skills they need to strengthen. However, math workshop tends to be loud because it is collaborative, so independent work can be difficult for some students needing a quiet environment to think.

The Plan

Math workshop can last anywhere from 45-90 minutes. Below is a sample schedule of what math workshop could look like in your classroom:

  • 20 Minutes: Mini Lesson
  • 60 Minutes: 4 Centers + Teacher Small Group¬†
  • 10 Minutes: Discussion & Reflection

A mini lesson is meant to be short and to the point. Ideally the teacher instructs on the new skill for ten minutes, with five minutes of guided practice before students go off to practice independently in centers.

Self-checking centers are activities related to the mini lesson skill and/or previously learned skills so that students can successfully do them independently.

The teacher-led small group will rotate daily with which students see the teacher. Struggling students might see the teacher more than once a week where advanced students might only check in with the teacher for a few minutes on a long-term project.

Even though the length of your math block might vary, it’s important that each component of math workshop is present each time.

Suggested Resources

Below are suggested resources to support students in mastering math concepts during math workshop:


About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.