Thursday, August 16, 2012

BEAMing into a new year! :)

This summer I came across an excellent blog through Pinterest.  It's called BUILDing the Math Workshop from "Adventures in Teaching."  I loved how this innovative teacher explained the 5 stations she uses during math.  I wanted to do something similar, but since I'm new to rotating math stations I modified it into something a little simpler for me.  I call it B.E.A.M.  The letters stand for "Be Excited About Math!"  They also stand for Buddy Games, Exercises for your Brain, Articles & A.R., and Multiplication & Manipulatives.

Buddy Games
This part is exactly like the "B" of B.U.I.L.D.  Students complete math games in pairs or small groups.  Games should be introduced one week at a time.  Students need ample time to practice them before placing them in this center.  I also keep a little reference card with directions available.  The card is on the board with magnets attached to the back.  You can see them in the picture below underneath the "B.E.A.M. Rotation" schedule.

Exercises for your Brain
This station has three levels of worksheets for the 3 homogeneous groups.  There is a reteach, on-level, and enrichment activity from the Go Math! HMH textbook series which is the textbook our district uses.  I also supplement with other worksheets from various resources.  This is the station where I will be working with students to ensure that they understand the activity and know what is expected of them.

Articles & A.R.
This section involves independent and/or buddy reading of math or other non-fiction trade books.  Students can read books and take Accelerated Reader tests or read Time for Kids or Scholastic news articles and answer follow-up questions.

Multiplication & Manipulatives
This section includes practice speed drills with multiplication flash cards.  They work with a partner and timer to try to increase their multiplication speed and accuracy.  They may also explore with manipulatives.  This may involve exploring independently at times while at other times they may have a specific guide with questions to solve.

Schedule of Rotation
After teaching the whole group for 15 minutes, I will begin the 3 math rotations.  Each rotation should last approximately 15 minutes.  One rotation is seat work and the other 2 are stations.  It is important to allow time for review after rotations are completed.

Here is a sample schedule:

First Rotation
Group 1 = seat work
Group 2 = A
Group 3 = M

Second Rotation
Group 1 = M

Group 2 = seat work 
Group 3 = A

Third Rotation
Group 1 = A
Group 2 = M
Group 3 = seat work 

Students will visit each station twice a week.  I set this schedule for 4 days because of chapter tests, 4-day weeks, and to allow for flexibility in scheduling.

I will probably begin by introducing the last 2 stations for the first week and then add one more station per week.  I'm thinking of Multiplication & A.R. first, followed by Exercises, and finally Buddy Games.

Team Captain
I allow all students to have a turn being the leader.  Leaders are changed daily.  Once the group is formed, the person whose first name comes first in alphabetical order is the first captain.  Students respect the captain because they know that when it is their turn, they want to be respected.  Only the captain can come to me with an issue.  If a student does not want a turn as captain or the captain is out, the next person in line will take over.

Group Formation
Groups are formed based on a pretest that students take at the start of each chapter.  They are only as long as the chapter has lessons.  Many students finish the year having been in all three groups.  Ninety percent of students have been in at least 2 groups.

Students love working together in teams.  It is highly motivating.  I have found that as long as I make my expectations clear, students do a wonderful job during math group time.  Now that my stations are organized using this BEAM model, I'm confident math achievement will soar to new heights.  I can't wait to implement this with my students!  I will keep you posted on the progress. ;-)

Have a great opening!

Click HERE for the rotation schedule.  Click HERE for the labels.  Click HERE for games.


  1. I love how you have broken down each section and told us what you do- what a great, helpful blog post! Where do you get the buddy games?

    I'm a new follower. Thanks for sharing how you do things!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. Oops- I actually can't figure out how to follow your blog quite yet. If you can, add a Followers or RSS widget to your sidebar :)

    2. Thanks for commenting! I'm sorry, I'm new to blogging. I will figure out how to do that soon. I get the buddy games from old math bingo games, ideas I found on Pinterest, or Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). Pinterest is my favorite place to start. TPT is great too, there are lots of free items. For the paid items I keep a wishlist and wait for a sale.

  2. In the sample schedule, none of the groups meet with you. Is this a schedule for when you are initially introducing the centers, so you would be just monitoring them during the rotations? How many students would be in each group?

    Sorry for the questions - I have not done true rotations in math previously and would like to try this year if I can sneak it in (hoping the district guidelines are less stringent or at least actually make some sense this upcoming year).

    I love the acronym and also the organization of the area. Last question: Do just the team captains come up to get the resources/put them away for each rotation? I like having everything in one area as you have in the picture, but if multiple kids are coming up to the same spot to get the different baskets or items, it seems like it would get a bit crowded.


  3. I work with students at the "Exercises for your brain" station. I spend most of the time here. Once the group understands what to do, I will rotate and check on the rest of the groups. I divide my class into 3 groups. That leaves about 6-8 students per group, depending on the size of the class. I'll admit, 8 is pushing it; however, I prefer 3 groups to 4. The captains check that all of the materials are put away in the basket. The basket is then returned to the original location. Although you can't see it from the picture, behind each letter there are more baskets with additional materials. It did indeed get crowded at times, but "organized chaos" is okay as long as everything is back where it needs to be for the next class. Remember to follow up on clean-up the first few weeks. It will make transitions smoother for the rest of the year.

  4. What a marvelous idea! This will be my first year of teaching and I am looking forward to implementing of all of the wonderful ideas I have found blog surfing including this one! Thanks for sharing such fabulous math stations :)


  5. Thank you for sharing this great idea. I will check out your inspiration as well. I love how you have things organized in the crates and baskets. Beautiful!
    Kat from

    1. Thanks Kat! Best wishes for the next school year ;)

  6. Where did you get the colorful baskets?

  7. I found them at Dollar Tree. I liked their selection of storage containers and you can't beat their price!

  8. My last name is Beam and I am a fourth grade math teacher. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea. Thank you so much for sharing! Are you willing to email me your files or can we find them on Teachers Pay Teachers?

  9. Actually, I got the paper from Walmart, but I haven't been able to find it since. I think it was discontinued. I can create PDF's and attach them if you're interested. Thanks for showing interest. I'm not on TPT, but I'm constantly visiting them for ideas and resources. Have a great year ;-)

  10. I am a first year SPED Teacher in September, can you email great ideas to help my students learn. I am so excited to finally be a contract Educator. Thanks