Training Circuits

I have been to many conditioning and exercise classes in my time. They’ve drilled it into my head that some of the best workouts are in the form of short bursts that utilize different parts of my body. I have to agree. So, I decided to apply this to math.

The math coordinator for my school division came out to visit me last semester and introduced me to the idea of doing learning centres in math, but it has taken on a whole new life from what I originally envisioned after our meeting.

My basic set up is a set of seven stations — two practice stations, one skill check (quiz) station which I kind of axed and turned into another practice station, one reading station, one mad minute station, an open-ended problem solving station, and a Thibeault Time (3-1 time with me) station.

What I’ve learned so far — I am going to tweak these stations a little bit. I think it would be best to divide into four or five groups so I get more time with groups. I also would like to be able to get contact with each group each day (the current station set up means I don’t see one group each day).

I also have identified that there are common things in that I taught every group, regardless of their skills and abilities. That gave me a spark — why not do a hybrid flip-flop (flipped classrom-style ordeal, but have the videos available to watch in class instead of for homework)? Instead of having students wait to move on until they saw me (unless they figured it out correctly themselves), I could record a few videos, then have more directed instruction with the groups individually where we could work through at-level problems or reteach specific concepts.

I do want to keep the reading and mad minute stations, along with the open-ended problems simply because they workout different parts of the brain and provide a break from staring at questions all hour long. This ties into the circuit training — workout different things to get a better overall result. Same principle here — utilize different important skills (reading, problem-solving, and basic math) to get a better overall result. Not to mention, it is a good break for them. As of today, I haven’t had any classroom management issues. Keep your fingers crossed that nothing happens!

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a few days now, but this morning I almost didn’t post because my confidence was rattled. A student was away for a few days and had NO IDEA what was going on. She was completely lost and didn’t get any meaningful support from her group. She came to her Thibeault time, smiled and nodded, then came to visit me at lunch. We’re doing similar polygons with her group, but she had no idea what scale factor was, and was therefore quite lost. I’m wondering what I can do to combat this issue in the future. I think having the videos will help a lot, but I also am wondering if I need to build in 10 minutes each day for open Thibeault time (anyone who was lost).


Any thoughts on any of this, especially when students are absent? I really appreciated the comments from the last post — they certainly helped me with the process thus far, as well as thinking about improvements for next go-around!


One thought on “Training Circuits

  1. So glad to hear that these stations have been a success! I was wondering how things were going. It’s funny that I read your blog post today because I’ve been contemplating Mad Minute, and now I see you use it in your class. I liked your thought that it works a different part of the brain. Very interesting. You’ve given me some things to think about.

    As for the student that was lost, I think that having the videos available on the website will help. I try to do this as well, and even give students a chance to work through the lesson slowly by themselves (or with a partner) at a computer, so that they can watch, pause, think it through, and watch again. I also try to spend a couple of minutes even in the midst of guided time walking around and making sure that everything is okay. Then I can tackle some of these questions, or even get a student to join my group if a realize that he or she is completely lost. Give your students a tiny bit of practice time during the guided session, and then you can stand up, move, and still be back quickly.

    Hope these ideas help!

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