Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 6 "Opening"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 6 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

I enjoyed Chapter 6 on the Opening.  I have always had a routine of students completing a warm-up while I circulate around the room stamping homework.  I know many times the warm-up might get cut out because of time or what we were doing that day.  I really need to make sure the opening is really setting the stage for what we are doing in class that day.  There are so many possibilities of what can be done those first five minutes.  The most important thing is that we want to get students engaged in and thinking about math.

I loved the table on page 95 where the author gave examples of how you can use the seven thinking strategies when working on a problem or when discussing a concept.  I really need to start implementing these thinking strategies as I continue to put greater emphasis on the Standards for Mathematical Practice in my classroom discussions (and workshop opening).

I think this chapter seems so obvious and common sense about the importance of the opening, but it's so easy for a busy teach to gloss over or skip this part completely.  We really have to establish this integral part of the workshop routine in our classrooms on a daily basis.  By carefully planning out those first few minutes of class we are sending a message to students about what we value, expect, and hope.

Thanks for joining in everyone!


  1. It's important to remember that the opener is only 6-8 minutes. I've always used an opener, but really liked the suggestions on page 92. I would usually put up a problem like part d on page 92 and ask the students to solve. I liked building the problem with scaffolds and also asking how or why questions instead of just looking for a solution. The Workshop Model seems to work beautifully with the Common Core Standards and Practice Standards.
    I'd like to hear from all of you about how you handle homework. If it's important enough to assign, I feel it's important enough to spend some time going over it. I'm not certain that the two examples are what I'm looking for. I would appreciate hearing from all of you as to how you go over homework.

    1. I will still start the year checking in homework as I always have done. I will walk around and stamp while students work on the opener. I will then project answers on the SMARTBoard or maybe have an answer key copy for each table. I will still pick one or two problems to discuss as a class.

  2. I agree with Charla, I liked the scaffolding piece as well. I also like what Hoffer said about buliding Stamina.
    Our math program has an online homework component. Usually I assign 6-8 questions from there. Students can get examples and helper problems if they get stuck on a question, and they can redo the homework as many times as they want to get a 100. Since our district only allows hw to count up to 10%, I'm ok with them redoing the sheet to get the grade they want. It is randomized with questions, so they actually have to do the problem to get the problem correct. I can check the homework and determine who did or did not complete it, see how many attempts were made, and see the time it took to complete. So I pull any questionable students during a studyhall and reteach.

    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

    1. Our HW only counts for 5% of the final grade so each assignment earns a 2 pt completion grade. We have a system called working lunch where students must complete the assignment so zeroes are not really an option. We are going to SB grading and assessments so I don't know how homework will factor in.

  3. I found this more informative instead of something to be reflected upon. I think the ideas are great and I plan to implement the a, b, c, d warm up this year.

  4. I assign homework Monday through Thursday. This year I think I'm going to tweak it slightly as I found a good "skills review" at #CAMT13. (You can check it out here http://www.algebrareadinesseducators.com/) I post the answers online and students check their own work. If they have questions, they can ask on our Edmodo page, or they can ask me in class.

    We have a homework quiz every week, so students turn in HW on Friday and then take a quiz over it on Tuesday. 40% of the grade is homework completion (was it complete and did they show their thinking). 30% based on the homework itself (I choose questions from the homework, and students give me their answers....this holds them accountable for checking their answers). 30% is new problems similar to those in the homework or to what we've been working on in class. In theory, students can't fail this (although some still manage to). I don't think it's perfect, but it worked pretty well last year!

  5. This chapter made me feel like I'm on the right track with how I open my class. I am always at my door greeting the students as they come in, smiling, and welcoming them to math!

    The teacher that was in my room before me left me a lot of resources and for the most part, I use quite a bit of them. I know she was a great teacher so I took anything that was given to me, especially since this job was my first teaching job. One of the things she left me was her "board work" (warmups to start the day).. They used to be on transparencies, but a teacher a few years back converted them all to SMARTboard lessons. They are interactive and the students can basically lead the lesson. The students get 3 minutes to complete 10 questions and all the questions are things that we have already covered or are about to be covered. So it activates their prior knowledge and gets their brains thinking about math. If I was in a hurry, sometimes I would answer questions that students had at the end of the 3 minutes, but I really tried to let this be all student centered. That is something I will need to continue to work on next year. I would like them to come up to the board more often and show their work along with describing their thinking (good questioning offered on page 93 and chart on 95). There are 30 or so different board works to choose from so instead of just going in order, I need to try and make them more intentional and decide which board work will go best with each lesson; that way it can lead right into the mini lesson. I structure the board work so I only collect papers every other week and it seems to work well in my class; I do also like the ideas represented on pg 96. Anyone can email me if they are interested in taking a look at these. Jilliancmorris@gmail.com

    I like the ideas presented on pages 92 & 93 that talk about the 4 questions that get slightly more detailed and complex. This helps them show what they know instead of just solving.

    As mentioned before, a man named Mark Forget has done a few seminars for our school and he focuses a lot on setting purpose. I really made a point to set purpose each day last year and I really noticed a difference. "A students purpose as a math learner in any given class ought to be more than getting through the lesson, but rather exercising a growth mindset, mastering content, and also honing her endurance as a problem solver, as well as her skills as a thinker." This line really stood out to me. They need to be able to have metacognition, which is a tough thing to grasp (they need to establish what they know, what they need to know, their confusion, what questions to ask...).

    I loved the homework ideas represented on page 100. I plan on using all of these next year! (Tally check, Share and compare, Clickers, Weekly quiz). I have been thinking about homework solutions for awhile now (because I spent too much time on it last year and it was not beneficial-I was just calling out answers and if the students wanted me to go over one, I would. This would have been a great opportunity for the students to share/discuss/show alternative methods) and I feel that after reading this, it gave me the ideas I need.

    After reading this chapter, overall I'm pleased with how I open my classroom, I just need to tweak the resources I have to be more student centered and intentional with the day's purpose. I also need to alter my homework purpose.

    -Jillian Morris

  6. Great chapter and I love reading all of the other comments about it - you all have great ideas! I read somewhere about a teacher who would hand out 6 tickets to one student. This student would then give five other students each one ticket and they would answer a certain warm-up question on the board (the ticket passer got to keep the last ticket). This helped with both student participation with the answers and getting them to complete the warm-up because they might get chosen to go up front! Neat idea. I wonder how many tickets I'd end up going through??


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