How to Teach Your Math Opening Like a Pro

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!

Most people skip the math workshop opening but it's actually really important to include a math opening. This post includes lots of ideas on how to make it quick and easy like a pro!

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

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.

Mountain Math is an example of a great math opening that can help your math workshop be successful, quick and easy!

Math Stretchers

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.

Math stretchers are an engaging math opening that warms up your students' brains and reviews important math concepts just before math workshop!

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.

Use this problem solving organizer for problem of the day activity as a math opening! It's a great way to help engage students and warm up their brains during math workshop!

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.

Number of the day is a math opening activity that can be used regularly during math workshop to help promote numeracy and to show the relationship between numbers.

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.

Grab Your Freebie!

Grab your free opening sample sheets that are shown in this post! Just click here.

Looking for math workshop units and other math workshop materials? Click here to check them out!

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What is math workshop and how can you get started? How is it different from guided math? There are lots of questions surrounding this math model! This blog post series helps you get started and provides you with everything you need to know to run it successfully in your classroom! Save this pin and click through now!

Want to read more about Math Workshop? Check out these additional “Everything You Need to Know to Run Math Workshop Successfully” Posts:

  1. Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Run Math Workshop (Intro to what math workshop is and it’s benefits)
  2. Why Your Math Workshop Model is Not Flexible (and How to Fix It!) (The math workshop structure and your options to being flexible)
  3. How to Teach Your Math Opening Like a Pro (All about the math openings of math workshop)
  4. How to Take the Headache Out of Mini-Lessons in Math Workshop (All about the whole group component of math workshop)
  5. Make the Most Out of Guided Math (All about the guided math component of math workshop)
  6. Are Guided Math Centers Really That Hard? (About the choices in guided math centers)
  7. 3 Super Easy Alternatives to Math Centers (About alternatives to math centers during guided math)
  8. The Importance of Meeting with Students During Math Workshop (All about one-to-one conferring and guided math groups)
  9. Lesson Closures for Math Workshop (Ideas for how to close your math workshop)
  10. How to Rock Your Math Workshop for Ultimate Student Growth (Tips for increasing student growth in math workshop)

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Laura

    These are all such great ideas! I mainly teach highschool but have been in the elementary classroom before and can really appreciate these workshops. Thanks for sharing!

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