Monday, July 23, 2012

Differentiation, Self-Assement and Goal Setting... Oh My, Mats!

Work Mats have become an invaluable tool in my classroom.  I use these mats to seat children at the tables, each day mats are picked up and put away. The next morning I place the work mats at tables based on a variety of needs. Work Mats allow me to seat children based on learning styles, academic or social needs, form small groups, or seat children for conferring needs and these are just a few uses!  For the students work mats provide a consistent resource tool for math, word study, goal setting, self-assessment, communicating understanding, practicing new strategies, set a workspace of their own and more!

The idea of the work mat came from the wonderful mind of Gayle Brand and has evolved over the years. The work mat continues to be a work in progress and each year the mat looks a bit different! As a grade level we meet over the summer to make the mats. As we work to design this year's mat we share stories of our summer and ideas for the upcoming year.  Creating the mats has become an event, from shopping for supplies, choosing work space and choosing where to go for lunch! 

The Front of the Mat
Literacy Tools~

The front of the mat provides resources for both the teacher and the student. At the top of the mat is a nameplate for the student's name. At the beginning of the year I write the student's first name only. This serves as a model for students as they learn to properly write their name. As students become secure in writing their first name I add the last name to provide a model for writing the full name. (Note- I also write the students classroom number on the upper right of the mat. This helps the student to learn their classroom number for organization and classroom use.)

Individual Word Wall
The personal word wall provides a space for kids to record high frequency words, content vocabulary, or word chunks they want to have accessible. The kids choose how they will use this space. Some students choose to write words that they have mastered as a sense of collecting and celebrating words. Others choose to use this space to help them to learn new words, recording words that are challenging for them and then erasing them once the words become automatic for them. 

The self-assessment piece is the latest update!  The colorful smiley faces wrap around the mat so they are visible from the front and the back of the mat. This space will allow the students to communicate their understanding non-verbally. By pointing to a specific color of smiley face students can indicate their understanding and allow me to know if they need more support. 

Goal Setting
The flower is a place to grow! This space is where students will write their individual learning goals. In our classroom students assess their learning and set goals that will help them grow. Having the goals here on the mat helps the student to remember goals and work toward meeting them. This space also helps me to know student goals and seat kids based on goals.

The Back of the Mat~
Math Tools

Number Line
The back of the mat provides resources for math practice, self- assessment and goal setting. The number line is a tool we use often in first grade and having it right here in the mat provides a consistent format for all to follow during lessons and the is an easy "carry on" for individual use during the workshop as kids move around the room.

Place Value Board
The green, blue and pink post-it-notes provide a space for the kids to place base ten blocks in their study of place value. The colors help kids learn the place of ones, tens, and hundreds and can be easily monitored as I float around to monitor understanding.

Number Model Space
This space is directly below the place value board. This is simply a white space where kids can write number models, the number represented on the place value board or just practice number formation.

Hundreds Grid
The 100 grid is another well-used resource in first grade. Kids refer to this often for addition, subtractions, counting, place value and number recognition.

The clock is an analog face without hands. Kids can make hands on clock to show time. The white space above is used to record time.

Math Goal Space
This space like the flower on the front is where students write their individual learning goals for math. 

Once mats are completed they are laminated. Kids can write short term information on the mat with a dry erase marker. To keep information longer kids can write on the mats with a sharpie. Sharpie can be erased with polish remover.

Work mats have become an invaluable tool in our classroom, and I can't imagine teaching without the mats! The consistent resource for the kids allows them to focus on the learning and develop a recording framework they can count on. They allow me to differentiate and assess learning at a glance.


Sarah said...

I love this idea. I am going back to teaching first grade this Fall after several years of teaching second, (I'm hoping to loop with the group.) In the past I have had a "How are you feeling today?" reflection piece at their seats as they come it. But, I absolutely love the idea of a personalized, reusable tool! I am planning on developing this idea!

Mary Lee said...

...and a brilliant use of Skitch, I might add...


Jill Fisch said...


You've got me thinking. I shared this post with my teammate and we will be discussing how we could use this idea - if not this year, then next year. I love your use of Skitch, too.