Minds on Math, Tournaments, and a Conversation FREEBIE

Whew!  Busy Busy Busy!  I feel like I have had so many crazy things going on lately.  All of them wonderful, but busy and crazy none the less.
Today I'm linking up with Sherrie and Middle School Math Rules for Chapter 6 of our Book Study on Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer.

Finally Hoffer gets into the actual lesson parts!  Chapter 6 is all about the Opening.  She challenges us right out the gate with the PoD:  How do you start math class?  I think this concept is really important. But honestly, as important as it is to start your class with something that is a engaging and hooks the student, I find that this is the most difficult part of the lesson.  It's not about creating this opening exercise or math message, it's about making sure that the TIME of it doesn't consume your whole lesson!  Sometimes I think creating a launch, or this past year using some of the launches from our math program, were great, BUT they were too long!  Students didn't understand the basics, and I ended up spending 15 minutes explaining and reviewing the concept that was supposed to be the springboard for the new material.  I ended up abandoning the launches shortly into the school year, because I had too much to cover.  I know that deeper understanding and critical thinking are important.  Hoffer has said it over and over even in this  book, but I'm stuck at the whole I have to cover all of the curriculum ledge, and I'm afraid to jump off of it!
I will give Hoffer  credit in this chapter for the idea of scaffolding this opening math message.  She suggests creating problems that show a challenge, by choice.  Suggestions included an open ended set of questions similar to this:
a) What is an exponent?
b) Draw a visual representation of 5 squared
c) Draw a visual representation of 2 to the third power
d) How you find 5 squared minus 2 to the third power?

Of course, these numbers would be written as exponents, but frankly, I haven't figured out how to do that on this blog yet without taking a screen shot.  Bear with me peeps!
I've got an idea about this rolling around in my noggin.  It needs a little more teasing, but I'm thinking about using that scaffolding, and  having students take 3-5 minutes in the beginning of class with those questions, then bringing it back in to the lesson at the end, and have students try to see if there is any information that they can add to the launch at the end of class.  I could have them do this in 2 different colors to have an idea of what they knew, and what knowledge they gained during the class period.  I'm not 100% sold on it yet, but it does have me thinking.

The second thing that I really think is important is STAMINA.

I use the idea of Stamina a lot in my ELA class.  We talk a lot about gaining stamina in reading and writing, but I think it is also important in mathematics.  Especially computation stamina.  Because we are responsible for documenting growth in concepts and application throughout the year using AIMS Web, I'm going to incorporate one of the other components, computation, into practice to help build this stamina back into the basics.

Part two from my post today is just a simple shout out to my darling daughter, "24" who plays competitive travel softball.  She caught 3 of 5 games this weekend, and her team won the championship for the tournament, then turned around and played 3 more games Monday night in the local league.  Eight games of softball in 3 days... catching a total of 5 out of 8.  That my friends is a lot of ball!

Last, I promised you a FREEBIE!  After reading Hoffer's Chapter 5, I liked the reminder about making a positive contribution in conversation not only during math, but in other subjects as well.  I made a Conversation Card for my smarties to put into their Interactive Notebooks. I'm copying it onto cardstock, and having my kids make a pocket in the back for them.

 I am going to have them pull out the cards when we do small group work, just to serve as a reminder of how to start and continue a meaningful conversation, especially at the beginning of year as I model this technique.  

If you are interested in this Conversation Card reminder, go {HERE} and pick up your FREE copy.  Leave me a little feedback love if you do!

How do you launch you math classes?  Are you facing a time limit?  I'm still interested in hearing what other have to say as they work in that situation.  Don't forget you can follow me on Bloglovin, Facebook or Instagram.  Link using the buttons in the sidebar!


  1. Yes! I'm right there with you about the openers dragging on! I am in the middle of reading this chapter, but I am already getting some ideas as well on how to improve this in my class. I really like your idea of linking it back at the end. I'm sold on not giving "quiz" like questions but more of open ended type like what do you know about...
    Oh and Congrats to your daughter!!

  2. Congrats to your #24 daughter!! :)

    I've been told by 2 other math teachers that we don't have time for any math "fluff"-there's too much to cover. So I'm feeling deflated once again! :)

    I need to figure out something as a tiny warm-up for math. Tiny. I want them to do this NO LONGER than-5 minutes or so. Hmmm..... The other teacher usually give math problems-close ended computational problems.

    Your idea sounds interesting!


  3. I love the idea of tying up the opening question at the end of your lesson. I will have to carefully consider how to structure the opening. I do think some skill review is essential at some point in the workshop or students forget things, like the rules for +/- integers. I could see maybe having a different focus each day for the opening. it will also depend on what the day's lesson is.

    Congrats to your dd. Catching in this hot weather is a lot. We played three games this past weekend and tonight my son has his championship game. Hope it goes well! Thanks for linking up again.

  4. Congrats to #24! I too caught while playing softball for almost 12 years! I still find some of my fondest memories of childhood were out on the field! Incedenally I was #25!

    We use the Daily Math Reivew or 5 Easy Steps to a Balanced Math Program. I like it but I hate it. Sometimes it takes WAY longer than it should and we miss out on content, but at the same time if the kids are struggling that bad on something that should be a review....Maybe we should spend time on it.

    P.s. Thanks for the freebie! I grabbed it and left you some love on your TPT!

    Lessons With Coffee

  5. I love that Stamina poster-perfect visual and reminder! Congratulations to your daughter-such champ!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching


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