While it can be easy to skip the opening and deem it as not that important, it actually sets the tone for the workshop! It helps students’ brains begin to warm-up and prepare for what’s coming next – the mini-lesson. Further, the repetition of these tasks helps students begin to recognize patterns and make generalizations. This creates an environment of numeracy, an important part of math workshop!
As part of this math workshop series, I have been discussing everything you need to know about math workshop to be successful. In the first post, I discussed what math workshop is and the benefits and last time I mentioned how you can be flexible even within the math workshop structure. Today, we are going to focus on the first component- the opening.
As mentioned previously, the opening in the math workshop model is about 10% of the time, or approximately 5-10 minutes (depending on the time allowed). Since the time is so incredibly short, it has to be purposely planned and efficiently used.
Ideas for the Math Workshop Opening
The math opening does not have to be the same activity each day. In fact, the more you switch it around, the variety of math concepts and skills that can be addressed! This also helps keep the routine fresh and students engaged.
Some examples of math opening warm-ups include:
- Number Sense Routine
- Number Talks
- Calendar Math
- Math Stretchers
- Problem Solving Problems
- Spiral Review
- Number of the day
- Problem of the day
- Fluency practice
Calendar math can be similar to Everyday Counts or Mountain Math. You can find a variety of these teacher-made resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, or you can create them yourselves. They include a variety of math concepts that are addressed typically through a spiral review that involves just a few problems together each day. You can adjust based on standards or student needs.
I talked about math stretchers a while back in my blog post, Using Math Warm-Ups in Your Classroom. Math stretchers can come in a variety of forms and help students focus on the math that surrounds them in their everyday life. These are quick and easy activities that can easily be used as a quick opening each day.
This activity below is a math stretcher. The teacher places only one of these (half a sheet) on the board and students use sticky notes (or just write their names on the board) under the appropriate column answering the column. Then together as a class, students make a quick graph. There are lots of “data analysis” questions that can be asked and created. Then follow-up with questions and discussion.
Problem of the Day
While it does say “of the day” it doesn’t have to be each day. Teachers can choose to place a story problem on the board for students to complete. It can also be an exemplar that students work on in pairs throughout the entire week. Students work on it a little at a time through a graphic organizer, such as this one below.
Number of the Day
Just like the problem of the day, there’s number of the day too. This helps students see the various relationships between numbers and it promotes numeracy. It doesn’t have to be done every day and it’s a great activity to make things concrete. Just drag out the manipulatives for it. There are lots of number of the day activities on the internet, Pinterest, and TpT.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, the opening in math workshop, should not be limited to simply reviewing the lesson the day before (as that’s done in the mini-lesson) or to reviewing the homework from the day prior. The math opening should always be about warming up the students’ brains, creating an environment of numeracy, and spiral review.
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Want to read more about Math Workshop? Check out these additional “Everything You Need to Know to Run Math Workshop Successfully” Posts:
- Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Run Math Workshop (Intro to what math workshop is and it’s benefits)
- Why Your Math Workshop Model is Not Flexible (and How to Fix It!) (The math workshop structure and your options to being flexible)
- How to Teach Your Math Opening Like a Pro (All about the math openings of math workshop)
- How to Take the Headache Out of Mini-Lessons in Math Workshop (All about the whole group component of math workshop)
- Make the Most Out of Guided Math (All about the guided math component of math workshop)
- Are Guided Math Centers Really That Hard? (About the choices in guided math centers)