Ever wondered what the heck work mats are? And how can they benefit you in the classroom? Work mats are great for guided math or during small group instruction to serve as both practice and a reference sheet as students are working towards mastery of a skill. Let’s dig in and practice multiplying decimals.

**What are Work Mats?**

Work mats are a tool intended for use during small groups. They focus on one skill and provide scaffolded support, allowing students to practice using different strategies to master a concept.

With work mats, students work through a particular skill or concept in a gradual release type format. They allow students to practice the skill in various ways, while also serving as a reference guide for students to refer back to later (or even as they are working).

**Why Should I Use Work Mats to Practice Multiplying Decimals?**

#1: Work mats help with RtI (Response to Intervention). Using work mats in small group instruction helps you target areas of growth for your students and helps you provide individual support.

When practicing multiplying decimals, students have a variety of opportunities to get off-track. Work mats help you to see their thought process and which strategies they gravitate towards, which will help you choose your next steps to best support this individual student.

#2: Work mats help students gain a deeper understanding of skills. With something as complex as practicing multiplying decimals, the deeper the understanding, the better. We want our students to leave our classrooms feeling equipped to tackle concepts on their own. The scaffolded nature of work mats makes this possible.

#3: Scaffolding is built-in. Work mats are designed to support the gradual release model. If students are struggling with mastering multiplying decimals, this type of scaffolding helps them build on what they already know and master the concept at each level.

#4: Work mats encourage you to check for understanding along the way. When practicing multiplying decimals, it’s critical to see which step students are struggling with so you can meet them where they need the support. It’s easy to check in on students because the mat is organized really well – so you don’t have to search the paper for their work.

**Want to try out work mats in your classroom?**

Check out this work mat to practice multiplying decimals with your class! This 5th grade resource has small group lesson plans along with the work mat. It also includes scaffolded notes, a review section, opportunity for both buddy practice and independent practice, and an exit practice which can be taken for a grade if you need one!

If you are searching for other ideas about using work mats in your math group – check it out here!