As a teacher who used to teach reading in third grade and now teaches math I find it frustrating how much emphasis is put on passing the reading CRCT. Reading is important, don’t get me wrong. Without the ability to read students can do nothing, but third grade is not all about reading. That being said, other teachers have come up with great ideas for organizing and teaching reading, but very little has been done for teaching math.

I took the idea of CAFE reading and altered it for math.


Each week my students go to four different math groups. Two of these math groups are with a teacher, but this CAFE idea could be completed without a second teacher.


This center could be Study Island, IXL, Jog Nog, Xtra Math, or any other math game on a computer or iPad.

Active Group

This is one of the centers with a teacher. This group is typically where a performance task or hands on math activity takes place. Students should be actively involved in whatever is taking place. Some great hands on tasks can be found at the Georgia Department of Education website.


This center is a math game which correlates with the standard for the week. Many of my games have been purchased through classroom adoptions, SPED funding,, or my personal money. Some great games can be found at Lakeshore, fence it in, and many new textbook series have math games which can be created.

If you do not like to use math games within your classroom you would make the F stand for Fluency. Students could work on math fact fluency at this center.

Examine Learning

This is my other center with a teacher. This group is more focused on strategies for mathematics and practicing skills which enhance the students’ ability to solve math problems. Students are encouraged to identify the standards which they are weak in and determine which skills they need to practice more. Throughout the school year the teachers encourage students to examine their learning and determine where they make the most mistakes and why. In order to get students to think about their understanding and learning teachers have to spend a great deal of time having students focus on what they do and do not fully comprehend.

If you do not have a second teacher to run this center the E could stand for Extend Learning. Students could do some sort of seat work (textbook, worksheet, extension activity, etc.) during this center.

Get a FREE set of CAFE math headers here.

With CAFE math I also have a conference and assessment days. My math classes are run on a six day rotation, which matches my school’s rotation for special areas (so my students are used to a six day roation). On conference days my students may fall into one of three categories:

  1. Special Education students have certain data which is gathered weekly. This conference day is perfect for my SPED teacher to gather the data needed and also to give interventions when needed.
  2. Students may be pulled into a one on one conference with me. We go over any grades or assignments where a student struggles or answer any questions they may have on the standards we are working on.
  3. Any student not pulled into a group or conference is working on Brownie Points at their seat quietly. If the student has completed all of their Brownie Points they are playing a SMARTboard game.

On assessment days students are taking a test or quiz on the standards taught during that rotation. Students also complete pre-assessments for the next standard so that groups can be set for the following week.

My lesson plan template for this CAFE math 6 day rotation look like this:

Math Lesson Plans

Dates:     Standard:     EQs:

Group 1 Members:

Group 2 Members:

Group 3 Members:

Group 4 Members:

Math Skills

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

Rotation Plan

Group Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6
1 Examine Learning Computer Active Group Fun Teacher- Conference Assessment
2 Active Group Fun Examine Learning Computer
3 Fun Examine Learning Computer Active Group SPED- Intervention
4 Computer Active Group Fun Examine Learning


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

Small Group Lessons and Differentiation

Group Teacher 1 Teacher 2 Computer
2     Game


Informal Assessment:

WIDA Standards:

Get the template for FREE here.

I hope each math teacher will be inspired to make learning mathematics more meaningful for all students. One thing I always tell my students when teaching math is MISTAKES ARE PROOF THAT YOU ARE TRYING, so go out and make mistakes!


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