Math Tubs and More

Today I have decided to tackle two things–my kitchen counter and my math “tubs” (and I am not happy with that term, so I am looking for any suggestions for alternatives!).  I wrote the other day about my new project . . .

 . . .  and how I plan on using these numbered tubs to help me differentiate my  math instruction.  I want to keep some of the tubs more “constant”–like with fact fluency activities–and others will change as the year goes on.
I really don’t feel like I’m clear about how I want to STRUCTURE this differentiation, so my quest today is to search online for blogs and posts and articles about how other people organize their math workshops.  I am pulling out professional books that I know have information for me.  Here is what my computer currently looks like!  
Look at the number of tabs!  YIKES!

So . . . I have lots to do!  I really want to start the year with a clear vision of how this is going to work–even though I know myself and will inevitably change things as the year unfolds.  Here is what I’m thinking right now . . .

Some days will be whole class explorations like I have done in the past.  I really love watching students of all abilities and backgrounds problem solve together.  I am excited about our new district resource that has some of these explorations already available!
Other days will be math centers/stations.  This will allow me to introduce new topics to smaller groups of students and can tailor my instruction based on group needs.  Other students may be working on reviewing content, partner problem solving, fluency games, and so on.  I’m hoping my rainbow tub tower can help with this!  This is the area I need to get the most “clarity” on . . .  suggestions welcome!
Other days I may work with “checklists”.  Students have a list of tasks that need to be completed over a certain time span (usually a few days).  I then pull small groups and individuals to do other things–remediate or enrich.  This tends to happen more toward the end of a unit when students can work independently or in pairs to apply their new learning.
One other grouping technique that I really like is a “50/50” grouping.  I’m sure you have seen it–you teach whole class and those students who MOST need to focus are the LEAST focused!  I have found that teaching new material to half of my class at a time is often so helpful!  I first pull my students who I think need my guidance the most and teach them first while the others are working either individually on some practice, fluency, or enrichment work.  By sending my more “independent workers” away first, I can get the teaching done with my strugglers first and THEN send them off to try what I have taught.  I then pull my more independent workers back, do the new teaching I need to do, and check for understanding.  Essentially I am teaching the same content but in smaller groups–I have a better sense for who is understanding and who is not, students are more focused, and instruction feels more personal.  
So . . . I am now working hard to get some things in place to help with this!  I especially want to make sure I have more things to encourage higher level thinking and problem solving.  I really love open ended problems and I have finally finished writing my latest set to have on hand.  Here they are if you are interested in checking them out.  I wanted to create some problems that were really accessible to all students at a basic level but had many opportunities for students to take them further and to apply those Standards for Mathematical Practice.
I also finished my “Back to School” word problem set.  This is another set in my “series” of word problems–the ones with 20 problems, each in three different formats.  I love using these in my classroom and plan on incorporating them into my “rainbow tower” throughout the year!  This set has a “back to school” theme with all the problems dealing with school, getting ready for school, and other “school” topics.  I purposely made the content very accessible for fourth and fifth graders to start the year.  Third graders can do some of the problems–especially cooperatively.  
Have a wonderful day–and STAY COOL!