This post originally appeared on the blog Core Inspiration Laura Santos.

M.A.T.H. Workshop makes differentiating instruction seamless. If you want to learn more about the framework for M.A.T.H. Workshop, please read this post first.

What Happens During The At Your Seat Rotation

As students work through their M.A.T.H. rotations, they have the opportunity to work on activities that are just right for them. One of the rotations where personalized learning can be maximized is the At Your Seat rotation. During this rotation, students complete a variety of differentiated independent math activities at their seat, or in a place where they can focus around the room.

Quadrilateral City Project Based Learning Unit by Core Inspiration

At the beginning of a new unit of study, At Your Seat activities can mainly be a review of skills introduced during the previous unit. As the unit goes on, more of these activities should be related to skills from the current unit. This boosts student success, and provides opportunities for enrichment and deeper understanding. Also keep in mind, the At Your Seat activities used to review and reinforce skills from the previous unit of study are perfect forms of assessment.

Here are five ideas for practice activities you might have your students engage in during the At Your Seat rotation of M.A.T.H. Workshop.

Computation Checks

Give your student practice with calculating basic operations, and solving equations that are directly related to the mini lesson taught that day.

In my classroom, the practice books provided by our math adoption, EnVision, are used for computation checks. During the At Your Seat rotation, students spend the first five-or-so minutes completing a computation check.

Computation Check In Station near small group area.

They then check their work for accuracy by peeking at the answer key I have available near my small group area. On days when I am mingling around the room to have one-on-one needs-based conferences, students know they can come have their computation check looked over by me for accuracy. In this case, I record their level of understanding on my M.A.T.H. Workshop Data Tracking Sheet based on our Levels of Understanding rubric.

Computation Check In Station near small group area.

Problem-Solving Tasks

Give your students practice with solving complex problems that incorporate the skills they’ve learned.

Rather than giving students more routine computation practice, focus on providing them with tasks that require the transfer of skills they have learned to demonstrate a deeper understanding. In my classroom, we use Problem Solving Task Cards, which are specifically designed to help students apply math concepts to solve complex word problems. Each task requires students to utilize problem solving, reasoning, critical thinking, and precise modeling skills.

Core Inspiration Problem Solving Task Card Display Board

Problem solving tasks are a wonderful way to differentiate At Your Seat activities. Providing a selection of task cards to choose from boosts student independence, and engagement. Try incorporating a challenge option each day for students who are interested in applying what they know to solve more advanced, complex problems.

In addition to providing different problems to choose from, you can also differentiate Problem Solving Tasks by providing students with different tools for recording their answers. Some students may need a formatted recording sheet with a step-by-step checklist to walk them through solving complex problems. Others may benefit from a formatted recording sheet without a checklist, while some advanced students may feel comfortable with recording a detailed model and explanation on a blank journal page.

Allow students to pick how they will show their thinking when solving complex math problems.

Performance Tasks

Give your students the opportunity to apply a variety of math skills to solve multi-step problems that connect to real world situations.

You may want to think of Performance Tasks as mini projects that can be completed in one or two At Your Seat Sessions. You can differentiate your Performance Tasks by having students work independently, with their Math Triads, or with a group or partner assigned specifically for the duration of that task.

Project Based Learning

Give your students the opportunity to engage in long-term projects that incorporate math skills alongside cross-curricular skills.

When selecting or designing a math project, take time to think about how your math unit can connect to the other content you will be teaching at that time. Science and social studies content works well with math, so I always suggest using those as a foundation for project inspiration.

Core Inspiration Telling Time Project Based Learning Unit

For example, when I taught second grade, we studied adaptations & life cycles at the same time we learned about place value. Therefore, it made sense to design a project that combined those two units of study (Place Value In The Wild). Later in the year, our social studies unit about geography, mapping, and coordinate grids coincided with our arrays & multiplication unit, so we designed an arrays mapping project. At the end of the school year, students can’t help but daydream about life outside the classroom. This makes it the perfect time of year to do a telling time project that requires students to plan out a schedule for the day of their dreams, and write about all the details of their very special day (Time of Your Life).

Taking the time to think about student interests and student mindset will spark creative ideas in you that help to design engaging projects for your students.

Math Journaling

Give your students time to write about their math understanding.

Core Inspiration Math Journal Prompt Example for third grade

Math journaling can take many forms. Here is a short list of ideas to inspire you.

  • Show how to solve a problem multiple ways.
  • Write your own problem.
  • Explain how you solved a problem.
  • Explain how you know your solution is accurate.
  • Analyze someone else’s work, and explain how they solved a problem.
  • Reflect on personal growth and needs in math learning.
  • Record personal feelings about math in general, or a specific math topic.
  • Brainstorm how to use a particular math skill in real life.
  • Make a claim about the most important thing learned that day/week/unit.
  • Create a thinking map to show what you know about a topic.

At Your Seat Assessment Data

All the activities above can be used as assessments of student growth and understanding. Providing students with high quality, rigorous At Your Seat activities makes incorporating assessments seamless, and reduces the need for lengthy end-of-unit assessments. For more detail about assessing student understanding and tracking data during M.A.T.H. Workshop, read this post.

Resources for maximizing your M.A.T.H. Workshop data tracking routine.

If you have other ideas for unique and rigorous At Your Seat Activities, or questions about the At Your Seat rotation of M.A.T.H. Workshop, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ready To Give M.A.T.H. Workshop A Try?

For more details about each component of M.A.T.H. Workshop, check out my other posts about this instructional approach:

If you want to give M.A.T.H. Workshop a test drive in your own classroom, grab your M.A.T.H. Workshop Starter Kit. If you are interested in making your M.A.T.H. Workshop transitions more efficient, give my Editable M.A.T.H Workshop Digital Rotation Board a try.
COVER Core Inspiration Math Workshop Starter Kit

Editable M.A.T.H. Workshop Digital Rotation Board Product Cover


Core Inspiration by Laura Santos: Teachers Pay TeachersLaura Santos [Core Inspiration by Laura Santos], is an elementary teacher in California. During her 7 years as an educator, she has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. She enjoys creating resources that help teachers create a self-directed learning environment that incorporates project-based learning and enrichment activities. Another passion is creating organized classroom spaces that promote productivity. To take a look at her classroom and instructional approach, visit her blog, Core Inspiration. You can also find her resources at her TpT store, Core Inspiration by Laura Santos. Connect with her on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest.