How to Organize and Manage a Math Workshop with Guided Math Instruction {Tips, Photos, Ideas and Printables}

Do you know what my absolute favorite time of the school day is? Math Workshop! In fact, thanks to the Common Core, I'm a bit math obsessed lately. Which is funny to me because, as a student, I personally hated math all through school.  Loathed it in fact.  And if I am being honest, math was also my very least subject to teach for many years. The whole class format of math instruction posed many problems.  It was a struggle to get them engaged and keep their attention. 

Their understanding fell on a spectrum. They ranged from "I'm bored because I already know this yet I have to listen to it anyway" to "I don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about, but if I sit quietly enough you may not notice because Johnny and Susie are using the pattern blocks inappropriately and you're distracted by trying to redirect them."

And then it happened.

I started teaching math the same way I had been teaching language arts and it absolutely changed everything. Kids became engaged and on task at all times. I felt like I really understood each student as an individual mathematician. The classroom was filled with the sound of students having meaningful conversations about math, discussing strategies and learning from each other. Those who needed extra support were receiving it and those who needed a challenge were enriched. Best of all, after a few weeks, the room ran itself.

When I implemented the workshop I developed an acronym using the word "MATH" to set up my rotations. One of my top-selling products is the Math Rotation Board that goes with this acronym. I have long been promising to create an additional resource to detail how to organize and prepare your classroom for math workshop, get the workshop up and running each year, form ability-based and flexible small groups, manage math station rotations, use math tubs on days you are not holding a workshop, lesson plan and more.

I certainly didn't expect the process would take so long, but after about 100 hours of writing, typing, photographing, creating and editing I am incredibly proud to finally present...
Click to Access and Download: CFC's Guided to Organizing and Managing a Math Workshop with Guided Math Instruction

Click any of the photos below to view a larger image of everything included in this giant packet.




Please note:
This product is debuting at a discounted rate. I know a lot of you are headed back to school soon and want to get your "ducks in a row" so for a limited time, the Guide to Organizing and Managing Math Workshop with Guided Math Instruction is being offered at 33% off the normal price...a better than even the best sale on TPT.

Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 

Document Student Writing Progress with a Writing Portfolio Binder {Freebie}

I've reached the half way point of summer vacation.

Or maybe even the more than half way point.

I'm afraid to actually count.

And while I've been loving days of  beach, pool, and lake blurring together, I have declared this "Get 'er Done Week." My kids are all at camp each morning and Hubby and I are at home with big plans to 
cross a bazillion and one things off a very lengthy to do list.

I spent the bulk of the weekend and today putting the finishing touches on something I am VERY excited to show you tomorrow.  In the meantime. . . 

A reader had kindly asked if I would create an additional publishing page and add it to the Narrative of the Week Packet for multi-paragraph writing. In true "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" fashion I added the page, but felt it needed the title and clipart. So I ended up making 37 new pages for both the Narrative and the Opinion Packets.

If you already purchased either packet, you can simply redownload to access the new pages.

If you are interested in both products, they are available individually or as part of a discounted bundle.

I started think about the year and was getting excited about using these to show the students' growth over time I realized I needed a method for keeping their work organized.

So I made binder covers, spine inserts, and tabs to create Writer's Portfolios.

And now I'm sharing them with you. :)

{Click to Access and Download: Writing Portfolio Binder Printables

These were designed to be slid into a 3-ring binder, but you could also attach the covers to pronged folders.

For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide along with my Teaching Procedures and Routines Workbook. This post is part of:

This item debuted as a Flash Freebie on 7.29.13 and was available from 9:00 P.M. to ? 
Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the Freebie of the Day
Click here for a listing of all of the Teacher Tips and Printables from The Summer of 2013.

Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 

Tips for Managing and Celebrating Student Birthdays in the Classroom


Include your birthday policy in your parent handbook or address it at open house. This may already be included in your school’s handbook. Consider how you will handle the following:
  • parents sending in treats
  • students passing out invitations/thank you cards for parties outside of school
  • discussions in school about parties that not all students were invited to
  • celebrating with food

Keep student birthdays noted in a central location so you do not forget them. I have a birthday template in my Teacher Organization Binder that shows all of the birthdays at a glance. I also record them on my monthly calendars. We have a display in the classroom. And I get notifications through Powerschool. I think I’m covered ;) Any one of the above would be fine.

Discuss the topic with your colleagues. If your school doesn’t have a specific school-wide policy in place, then work with your teammates to be consistent in how your celebrate.

Discourage parents from sending in food. Allergy concerns are the obvious. Cat hair in the cupcakes is the unspoken fear. If you do allow for editable birthday treats, I suggest making sure they are store-bought, prepackaged and individually-wrapped. You may also want to draft a general permission slip to be signed by each family allowing students to share in the eats.

Remember, teaching time is precious and oh-so-limited. Keep this in mind in planning how you’ll celebrate birthdays in your classroom. It may be best to keep it simple. 

Keep all children in mind. Not all students celebrate birthdays. If you have a student who doesn't celebrate you may want to discuss the situation with administration before proceeding with plans to celebrate other birthdays in the classroom. It should be a team decision.

Get to know the dynamics of your class before committing to a birthday tradition in your room. While the “Birthday Conga” may have been a fun celebration one year, the class make-up the following year could make it a disastrous idea. Remember, it’s hard to reel them back in after a conga line. ;) Some classes do best with a simple Happy Birthday and a smile. Know your crowd.

Birthdays are exciting to kids. And exciting equals motivating. Integrating birthdays into academics can make for fun learning experiences. Create bar graphs and line plots using birthday months. Have students write personal narratives about their birthday experiences or opinion writing pieces about their favorite cake flavor.

Kids love their birthdays and love to see their names and pictures on a birthday display. Here's what I made for this school year.

{Click to access and download: Birthday Display Classroom Chart Packet}

I was originally going to just handwrite the students' names and birthdate onto the cards for month in which they were born. However, I have since decided that I will take a group photo of the students who share a birth month with each of them holding a card with a number showing the date of their birthday. The birthday display packet includes the numbered cards for a photo, three choices of titles, both colorful and ink-saving greyscale versions of the monthly cards, directions for assembly and cupcake accents.


  • Celebrate the half-birthday of students with summer birthdays.

  • Add a fun birthday song (You Say it’s Your Birthday by the Beatles, Celebration by Kool and the Gang, etc) to your morning soundtrack. Play that song on birthday days.

  • Have the birthday child lead a conga line while the class sings “Happy Birthday” (add ‘cha-cha-cha’ to the end of each line).

  • Obtain a collection of birthday-themed picture books. Place them into a birthday gift bag complete with tissue paper. Only take it out when a child is celebrating a birthday and let him read from it during Reader’s Workshop or silent reading time.

  • Use iron-on transfer sheets and a cheap, colorful t-shirt (usually $2-$4.00 at craft stores) to create an “It’s My Birthday.” Buy it in a size larger than your students would typically wear so it can be worn over their clothes. Be sure to take it home to wash it between wears.

  • Keep rolls of streamers on hand. Use it to decorate the birthday child’s chair or locker.

  • Place a sign on your classroom door reading, “We’re Celebrating ____’s Birthday.”

  • Put together a packet of fun birthday-themed activities (word search, coloring page, mazes, etc). Allow the birthday child to work on the activities in the packet instead of one of the regular classroom assignments for that day.

  • Provide the birthday child with a special birthday pencil to use in class that day.

  • Buy a couple packages of birthday-themed bulletin board border from the teacher store. These borders make cute birthday “crowns.”
The final tip comes with a FREEBIE:
{Click to access and download: Birthday Class Book FREEBIE}

  • During journal writing or writer’s workshop, have the students write a letter to the birthday child. Have them write specific details so the letter doesn’t just read, “You are Funny. You are Awesome.” Gather the completed entries and present it to the child from his classmates as a special keepsake. Make this even more personalized and special by snapping a photo of each student wearing a party hat or blowing a party horn. Print one copy of each student for each of their classmates and use them as special stationary for the birthday book. A quicker and easier alternative would be to take a class picture at the start of the year with party hats and blowers. You can then print a class set and use them to make cards that everyone in class signs. If you do this be sure to give one to the principal, nurse, secretary, and specialists on their birthdays as well.

Birthday-Themed Books 
{click on any of the covers to read descriptions on my Amazon page}:


By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.

Back to Top