The school year is almost here for us and I assume most of you as well. It has been an awesome summer here in Michigan once the weather finally figured out what season it was in. Usually for me, June and July are a time to get refreshed. Once August hits, my mind starts to focus on the new school year. In our school we have a handful of teachers that are pros at Zones Math and a few that are starting it this year for the very first time. That brings me to the topic of launching Zones in your classroom.
Why do I have to "launch" Zones?
Well I can honestly tell you from my years of experience that integrating each Zone from day 1 will only cause you lots of gray hairs. For Zones to work well in your classroom it will take you approximately 30 days for the students to become independent. At this point you might be freaking out. You might just be thinking "I don't have 30 days to roll out a format for my math class." I mean, with ALL the math content we need to cover in a school year, who has 30 days to spare? And that my friends is what we adore about Zones Math! (Oh and you do get to teach some content....just wait and see.) Taking the time to teach each Zone to your students will mean that you can actually cover MORE content during the year than those not using a balanced math approach. During those first 30 days students will learn what the expectations are for each Zone and even what not to do during Zones Math time. You will help them build the stamina needed in order for them to be independent for the entire duration of each Zone. And do you know what that means? Uninterrupted conferencing and small group time! Students that are engaged and independent are the reason for "launching" Zones! (Just keep telling yourself that as you work through those 30 days. You will be so happy with the end result!!!)
What happens during the "launch?"
First of all let me first say that your ultimate goal is for your students to work in each Zone for 10-20 minutes depending on their grade level. As I mentioned above, you will not have your students working in all of the Zones starting from day 1. Each week you will introduce a new Zone to your class, tell them why that Zone is so important to their math learning, give them the expectations of that Zone and model what it looks like. Students will have a chance to model what it looks like and what it doesn't look like for their peers (they love this by the way...everyone volunteers for a chance to be a Zones actor/actress). Right now I bet you are wondering why we would have students model both the correct and incorrect ways of each Zone. It's a chance for the entire class to see why the wrong way doesn't work and for them to verbally confirm it. Once they are building stamina they already know that if they are not following the expectations it will be apparent to everyone else. You know, the whole group accountability thing actually works! During that week you will work on building stamina (practicing the Zone) by increasing the amount of time students are engaged in that Zone. Each week you will add in another Zone following the same format. Oh, and guess what!!!! You get to use your content during these times. See I told you you would be able to teach some content. Now check out this snippet of our First 30 Days Plan found at our Teachers Pay Teachers store.
What happens after the "launch?"
At this point your students should be working well in each Zone. They should also be at your time goal during each Zone (10-20 minutes). Now you can begin a full Zones Math class with whole group instruction, Zones rotations, small groups and conferencing.
While this blog post is a brief explanation of the "launch" you will want to download the full First 30 Days Plan. This plan is kinda the bomb diggity... if I don't mind saying so myself. It tells you what to do every step of the way. Now for my parting words....may you "launch" Zones Math with excitement and ease remembering that building stamina, engagement and independence will be your rewards! Happy "launching" our Zones Math friends!
Lots of Love!
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