## Math League

Making review stations that are engaging and meaningful.

Making review stations that are engaging and meaningful.

As a way to switch up the five-day review plan from time to time, I introduce Math League, which is a form of math stations. In a month, I like to start the first and third weeks with the five-day review plan and use Math League for the second and fourth weeks, essentially going back and forth between the two. While I use these stations as a form of review for already taught material, Math League and stations, in general, can be incorporated for honing the current and ongoing material as well.

The Math League essentially includes four stations that students visit for 15 minutes each. If using it for a review purpose, the stations should be prefaced with a brief lesson, where the teacher remodels and reteaches a particular topic. Then, the students break into the stations to take that learning and apply it through guided and independent practice. In terms of scheduling, the stations can either be completed in one entire block (i.e. for an hour with students rotating after every 15 minutes) or the stations can take place for 15 minutes per day (i.e. start with the mini lesson on Monday) and each group visits one station per day. The latter approach is the one I prefer because it allows for math review to be a daily aspect of our schedule.

So, what exactly are the four stations in the Math League?

The Math League essentially includes four stations that students visit for 15 minutes each. If using it for a review purpose, the stations should be prefaced with a brief lesson, where the teacher remodels and reteaches a particular topic. Then, the students break into the stations to take that learning and apply it through guided and independent practice. In terms of scheduling, the stations can either be completed in one entire block (i.e. for an hour with students rotating after every 15 minutes) or the stations can take place for 15 minutes per day (i.e. start with the mini lesson on Monday) and each group visits one station per day. The latter approach is the one I prefer because it allows for math review to be a daily aspect of our schedule.

So, what exactly are the four stations in the Math League?

Build Time |
Engage through a hands-on activity either independently or in groups. |

Game Work |
Pair up with another student to play a math game, learning how to work with each other. |

Seat Work |
Solve problems on your own at your assigned seat. |

Teacher Time |
Work with the teacher through guided math practice to solve problems. |

In *Build Time*, students independently experience math and the particular topic from the mini lesson through the notion of "building" something. This station takes a bit of time to plan compared to the other three stations, but it makes math both contextual and practical. For example, if the mini lesson focuses on the perimeter of an object, students can use a set of flashcards with some perimeter based questions (e.g. build a square that has a perimeter of 25 blocks or build a rectangle with a length of 10 blocks and a width of 5 blocks). Accordingly, this is a station that be planned using manipulatives, as a way to promote a concrete approach to learning math.

As a way to assess students, I try to think of how to move from building to assessing. Let's say students are learning about patterns. You can have students create a pattern using manipulatives (e.g. blocks) and then have them draw/shade the pattern as a form of assessing. For me, assessing students during *Build Time* really depends on the topic we focus on for the mini lesson. Sometimes an assessment makes sense and sometimes a hands-on project alone is more well suited.

STEM and other inquiry based projects can also be an excellent way to approach the station, as long as students are taking ownership of their learning through hands-on play.

STEM and other inquiry based projects can also be an excellent way to approach the station, as long as students are taking ownership of their learning through hands-on play.

This is probably the most fun station of them all (of course, we never say that out loud). Typically, I set up a game station for students to play. For example, if students are working on single digit addition, the Four in a Row activity is something I like to use. If we are learning about different shapes or even symmetry, it could involve an arts and crafts assignment for students to work on. This is a particularly useful station to merge with another content area, allowing for integration.

As a personal favourite, I really like playing math snakes and ladder. For this, I draw out a large version of a snakes and ladder board, numbering the individual squares from 1 to 40 along with drawings of the snakes and the ladders. In this game, students have to roll a dice. Before moving their piece, students have to select a question from the Mystery Box. If they answer correctly, they can move their piece based on the number they rolled on the dice. I usually make several question cards for the Mystery Box, ranging from multiple choice questions to short answers with the answer on the back of each card.

As a personal favourite, I really like playing math snakes and ladder. For this, I draw out a large version of a snakes and ladder board, numbering the individual squares from 1 to 40 along with drawings of the snakes and the ladders. In this game, students have to roll a dice. Before moving their piece, students have to select a question from the Mystery Box. If they answer correctly, they can move their piece based on the number they rolled on the dice. I usually make several question cards for the Mystery Box, ranging from multiple choice questions to short answers with the answer on the back of each card.

The *Seat Work *station is a set of three of questions that students have to solve in the 15-minute time frame. These questions are aligned to the topic from the mini lesson and increase in terms of rigour from the first question to the next. For example, if the mini lesson remodels the perimeter of shapes, the first question could focus on finding the perimeter of a rectangle, the second question on finding a missing side, and the third question on finding the perimeter of a shaded region. By having three different rigours of questions (e.g. low, medium, and high), the assessment data can show where student breakdown is still occurring, if any. This also provides an opportunity for struggling, proficient, and advanced math learners because of the differentiated questions.

As a way to make planning easier for me, I prepare three columns to separate the three questions, as students move from the easiest to the more difficult question. There will be students who find these three questions quite simple, so I add a fourth question on the other side, as a challenge question. In some case, I differentiate the worksheet altogether according to the students' math level, particularly because I do not want ant student to sit through the station without really getting any practice or revision.

Here is an example based on students learning about shaded and non-shaded regions:

As a way to make planning easier for me, I prepare three columns to separate the three questions, as students move from the easiest to the more difficult question. There will be students who find these three questions quite simple, so I add a fourth question on the other side, as a challenge question. In some case, I differentiate the worksheet altogether according to the students' math level, particularly because I do not want ant student to sit through the station without really getting any practice or revision.

Here is an example based on students learning about shaded and non-shaded regions:

Alternatively, students can also work on a worksheet that is aligned to the topic. It can also be journal work that students complete, which can be used as a central place to assess student work.

For other activities, I use station ideas like Math Mat, Mart Sort, Puzzle Problem, and Task Cards. These are helpful seat work station ideas instead of always using the three questions approach that I have mentioned above.

At this station, students work with the teacher through small group instruction to further develop their understanding of the topic. Here, I provide each student a white board and an eraser. There are a series of three questions that I provide students similar (not the same) to the *Seat Work*. Each student starts with the first question, working through the problem on their own. The teacher's role is to facilitate and support each student individually. Students who successfully finish the first question are given the second and more rigorous question to work on. If a student or a group students struggles with the first question, the teacher can follow-up with a similar question rather than moving onto the second question. There is absolutely no need to complete all three questions, but rather, the focus is to ensure each student receives support according to their individual level.

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