How To Make Guided Math A Success With Digital Math Centers

Why digital math centers?

As a teacher, I love getting feedback and accountability for my students. How are they doing? This lets me know where they are at. Do you feel this way too? You might enjoy using digital math centers in your classroom as well!

In this post, I will discuss how to incorporate technology math centers into your day, and tell you a little about some of the activities that I offer in my 3rd-grade math centers for Google Classroom that can save you a ton of prep time!

Math centers can take some time to wrap your head around. Some of the "math center musts" include:
  • Covers information that students need to know
  • Easy to understand directions
  • Engaged students for 15 minutes
  • Fun and engaging
  • Low prep

Do the students learn new material?

I am a firm believer that math centers are NOT the time for students to learn new material. It is a time for them to review, refresh, and spiral back. Students should be working on skills that they previously mastered, or practicing fluency. Concepts can quickly get dusty and rusty in the back of a student's mind. Spiraling back allows all those mathematical skills that you worked so hard to get students to remember to actually stick. 

What programs can students use?

Do research on the computer program that your students will be practicing the skills.
  • Google Classroom
  • iReady
  • IXL 
  • Prodigy
  • SplashMath
Today, I am going to be discussing Google Classroom digital math centers with you! 

Does every student need a device?

I hope you are blessed with at least some technology in your classroom! But you know what? You sure don't need every student to have a device. Just 4 or 5 laptops/Chromebooks/iPads work great.

 If your students are using iPads, make sure to download the Google Slides app. Google Slides on an iPad browser does not work right and the drag-&-drop features will not work.

How do students rotate?

Every 15 minutes, a new set of students use the computers.

Sometimes, computer rotation can feel chaotic. I have had students lifting computers over their heads while screaming "WHO NEEDS A COMPUTER?" Now I don't know about you, but this is a buzzkill when you have a silent rotation going on. To stop this from happening, practice the routine with your students. Literally pretend to be rotating so students will understand how the rotations should look and sound.

Tip: make sure that all students are logged onto the same account on the computer. This saves you time!

I'm in! What are some activities I can try?

I want to show you my Google Classroom math centers. What I love about these is that they are paperless and no prep. Hate running to the copier because you're one paper short? That will NEVER happen with Google Classroom.

Now, I am not a believer that the classroom should become entirely paperless. I love hands-on learning for students, and I don't like the idea that kids would be behind a screen all day. However, having one 15-minute block during a math period using screens is okay for me. It breaks up monotony for students, and I truly believe helps them focus better on their other math stations. It is more engaging to students and "fun."

In the past, I have used apps or websites for kids to play math games on to practice their fluency. Although these were free, I quickly realized that kids were not doing the work. There was no accountability. Many times, students would click an ad and suddenly be on a YouTube page that has nothing to do with math. With Google Classroom, you can check in on them in real-time from across the room. Nothing is more powerful than seeing that a student is not doing their work, and then saying "Andrew, stay focused and on task." They instantly snap into their work and wonder how on Earth the teacher has eyes in every single corner of the classroom!

Google Classroom allows for accountability with students. All their work is automatically saved, and as a teacher you have the ability to check in on every student during their work and after their work is completed. 

Here are some of the activities that students will do:

Drag-&-drop


A drag-&-drop activity is one where students are literally moving something around the screen to answer a question or sort - whether a word, phrase, or picture.

These are my students' FAVORITE activities. Why? Because they are like computer games! 

Short answers

These consist of students typing a word into a blank - usually from a word bank. These are a terrific way of really seeing if students are understanding a concept, because it reduces the possibility of guessing.


DIFFERENTIATION TIP: Of course some of your students may struggle with typing. You can have students use the microphone to voice speak into the device. Then, students will be grappling with only the content and not have to worry about figuring out where a certain key is on the laptop!

Editable

Many of my Google Slides have a teacher editable section. This means that you can put your own numbers or questions into the activities. This is not only perfect for differentiation with higher or lower ability students, but it's also great because you can extend the activities but use the same format!

What topics are included in the Glitter in Third digital math centers?

I created a bundle that includes every single 3rd-grade Common Core standard! This means multiplication, division, place value, rounding, adding, subtraction, fractions, time, measurement, and geometry! Yes, your entire year of digital math centers is done!

Do I grade math centers?

Y'all. No, no, and no. I am a big believer in self-care and time. Teachers have little enough time.... grading a math center is not a good use of time. I take 5 minutes while kids are cleaning up to quickly glance at each student's Google Classroom assignment for the day. You instantly will see which kids "get it," which kids "do not get it," and which kids wasted their class time for the day not even attempting the assigning. You can remake your flexible groups based on this for the next day to give additional support to your struggling students (and make sure to check in on your time-wasters during math the next day!). 

Remember: Math centers are spiral practice. They are not something that should be graded and taking up your valuable time. Digital math centers are a time-saver, do not make them into a time-sucker!

How many math centers do I assign at a time?

I recommend assigning one or two slides for each class period, depending on the activity at the time. 

Not sure how to assign only a few slides at a time? Make sure to read my Google Classroom 101 guide for step-by-step directions... and lots of pictures for help! Click here to read.

Ready to give digital math centers a try?

Please share any questions you have about digital math centers in the comments below, or feel free to reach out and email me at Kelly@GlitterinThird.com.

If you want to learn more and see the breakdown in what I include in my 3rd-grade math centers for Google Classroom , make sure to check them out here on my TPT page!

Resources featured in post available at Glitter in Third on TPT

Comparing Fractions for Google Classroom DIGITALAngles for Google Classroom DIGITALUnderstanding Multiplication for Google Classroom DIGITALLiquid volume / capacity liters & milliliters for Google Classroom DIGITALComparing & ordering numbers for Google Classroom DIGITAL

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