One of the most common questions I receive when I talk about a ZONES math classroom is how do you plan for ZONES? Is it more work? How long until you "get good" at it?
Let me reassure you - YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!
I have found that you can take your current district provided curriculum and push it into the ZONES framework. (That is what makes it so great and adaptable!)
Most district curricula, or district chosen math program or publisher, use some sort of modified version of the Learning Cycle.
MemoriZe - this one stays pretty standard so it is the easiest to plan. I always can default to flashcards or some standard fact fluency websites or "apps". Occasionally, I will add a new option to this rotation, to peak new interest. Some additional ideas can be found here.
On Your Own - I typically use my district provided curriculum for this Zone. Typically this falls into Explanation and Elaboration in the Learning Cycle (sometimes I might even find some suitable Evaluation activities). This is where I can use most of the practice worksheet pages from a student workbook or textbook. You can also find more On Your Own ideas here. This is also a great ZONES for the higher achieving students to create an Educreations or a ScreenChomp to do peer teaching/coaching. Other math programs like ScootPad and GoFormative can be used to differentiate and individualize learning in this zone.
Notebook - For this zone I use activities that would be found in the Exploration or Elaboration portion of the learning cycle. Since the Notebook Zone necessitates a written explanation, I can use an Exploration activity and ask students to explain their thinking in words instead of with objects/manipulatives. I have also found that Elaboration activities work well too as they ask students to dig deeper to explain WHY. Many times I use those often skipped "hard" word problems at the end of a practice worksheet of a district curriculum, an "apply" problem, or a "create your own" type of problem using the content standard. There are more ideas here. To integrate technology into this zone students may blog about their Notebook entry on a site like www.kidblog.com, type their own response on Evernote or a Google Doc.
Explore - For this zone I use activities that would be found in the Engagement or Exploration area of the learning cycle. Most of the time, an introduction to a topic using an engagement and exploration will allow students to use manipulatives to "discover" their own conceptual thinking about a standard. In a district curriculum or math program this type of activity is typically found in the introduction, remediation, or Special Needs/ELL portion of the unit or lesson plan. These activities typically focus on allowing students to explore the concept in some sort of hands-on way. More ideas can be found here. The technology I train my students to use in this zone is Evernote. In this app, students are able to have their own named notebook and then create a new note. Within this new note, students can type a response, take a picture of their work, and record an audio file of their thinking.
Play with Someone - This is such a student favorite! I think this falls withing the Engagement and the Explanation portion of the Learning Cycle. Students are noticeably engaged in this zone and it necessitates that the students use cooperative learning strategies and explanation techniques to discuss their ideas with a classmate. Within a district math program or curriculum, games are typically built-in in some format. Most math programs will even have an entire book or manual focused only on games because they know how motivating they are to students. If you still find yourself in search of the perfect game to use, look here.
I typically plan for one or two activities for each Zone for each Menu rotation that I plan. If I plan for 1 activity for each zone, I will be able to get 5-6 ZONES rotations from my menu, if I plan for 2 activities for each zone, I will be able to get 10 - 11 ZONES rotations from my menu. You can plan accordingly for your math class period time allotment and content covered. Typically one planned ZONES menu will last me 1-2 weeks of math lessons.
Once my ZONES rotations are planned I can start looking into my whole group and small group lessons.
Whole group lessons - I refer back to my learning cycle for each of my whole group lessons. In the beginning of a instruction of a content standard, my whole group lessons will be more in the Engagement and Exploration zone. The Engagement activities may be an introduction to a game, a new vocabulary word or interactive notebook entry (foldable, flippable, etc.). Exploration activity may be an idea we explore together through kinesthetic activities, use of manipulatives, or teacher modeling. As we move through the lesson, we will move our whole group lessons to the Explanation portion where the activities may include a Triad Protocol (see Christi's great post about that here), a think-pair-share, or cooperative learning strategies. For the Evaluation portion of the cycle I use exit tickets (some ideas here) or some sort of interactive student data collection program (GoFormative, Plickers, Socrative, Kahoot) as an opportunity to see if students are able to move to the Elaboration section, which student may need to be pulled in small groups, or if the class is ready for assessment. Many of these lessons can be found almost scripted in a district curriculum or program. Most math programs include A LOT of whole group instruction.
These whole group lessons are mini-lessons and are usually about 15-20 minutes long. I plan for a week's worth of these mini-lessons at a time. Where in the teaching unit we are and the pace of student understanding determines my action plan for this portion of planning.
Small Group Lessons - my small group lessons usually focus on remediation for students who may need individualized attention. Therefore to begin my planning, I only plan one or two small group lessons on a the very basics of a topic or standard I am covering. I also do not plan for small group lessons for the first day of ZONES rotations. I use the first couple rotations of each new menu to conference with students within the zones. I use this time to gather student data (using these fantastic forms or BrightLoop). The data I collect with be used in the following days to develop small group lessons based on student need.
The planning for this is usually not too difficult. I sit down for 10 minutes or so every other day with this useful form and analyze the data I have collected, look at the gaps in understanding, and group students by need. The small group lessons are typically lessons that could be found right in the district curriculum under a whole group, remediation, or practice lesson. You just want to make sure that the lesson is focused on what the student needs are and the real magic is found when you are able to closely watch these students perform math operations to clear up any misunderstandings or close any gaps.
At first, getting used to planning in this way is a little bit of a learning curve. You will need to practice really digging in and unpacking what the district is giving you and how to place it in the appropriate ZONE or lesson. It is NOT a Day 1-page 23, Day 2 - page 24 and 35, Day 3 - page 26, Day 4 - page 27 and 28, Day 5 (assess) cycle of planning. But if you have a clear understanding of each of the ZONES, a clear understanding of what the students are asked to master at the end of each standard, you can take all of that useful information that the district has spent money on, not feel guilty about not getting to all of it, and use it in an effective way. In the beginning, you may want two planning periods the first week for a Menu rotation. The first planning period will be to plan out the ZONES and the second planning period will be used to plan out whole group and small group lessons. The second week, you will need one planning session to plan additional whole group lessons, then another planning period taken in 15 minutes increments spread throughout the week to analyze your data to form and plan for small group instruction. The forms mentioned in this post will be especially helpful as you begin to implement ZONES in your classroom.
Have you tried planning for ZONES yet? Comment below!! Was it easy? What areas were most difficult? Remember, if you ever are struggling we are HERE to help you!
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