I can’t stress enough how critical the first couple weeks of school are! You want to really focus on building a classroom environment where students feel comfortable enough to take risks with their learning, be willing to help one another, and are open to new and different ideas.
As part of my math program I use blackline masters from Math Warm-Ups: Short Exercises for Review and Exploration by Dale Seymour Publications. You could use any book that offers review of mathematical concepts. This book focuses on whole numbers, fractions, decimals, money, measurement and geometry concepts that are developed and reinforced throughout the book – 70 Warm-Ups. Each page also has a challenge question to students' thinking.
This lesson is two-fold. The math in the lesson covers some Mathematical Practices and develops critical problem solving skills. The first question on this warm-up has students discovering a pattern where they look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning (MP8). Questions 3-5 can be converted between different units of measurement (5.MD.A.1). This challenge question uses the math strategy of Guess and Check tying it to my lesson on Problem Solving Strategies.
The other Math Practice these Warm-Ups develop is students attending to precision – vocabulary and discourse. After I have given my students about 20 minutes to work on the problems we go over them as a class. The main focus of our discussion is how you got the answer and if there is more than one way to get the answer.
The other layer to this lesson is using Table Leaders to keep the group on task. The responsibility of the Table Leader is to read the questions and ask other student talk through the problem. This student does not have to know how to do the work and they are in charge of the group. The positives are this student will get an explanation from their table group and then again when the class discusses the problems – multiple modes of exposure to the math. They are also having positive support for their self-esteem by being in charge.
The first video shows my classroom before using Table Leaders - students did not work with more than one person. Within two weeks of establishing Table Leaders take a look at how students took charge of their own learning.
Students should reflect on what they’ve learned and their behavior and thinking during the lesson. I follow a format of asking three questions.
1. What did you learn in this Math Wake-Up?
Some student responses: “I learned that there is a pattern to the numbers in the box. It is kind of like Ben Franklin’s Magic squares.” “I remembered that perimeter goes around the outside, not the area inside.” This is a great review for the first week of school! MP1
2. What math strategies did you use and on which problem?
Some student responses: Giggles….”I used the strategy Guess and Check because it told us to do so!” I answered ignoring the giggles – “Yes, but how did you use it.”
3. How do you feel about working with Table Leaders?
Some student responses: “I liked being a table leader this time because I don’t usually get to lead the group. My group showed me a lot of respect.” “I liked having someone else be Table Leader because I am always trying to organize other kids and it is frustrating when they don’t listen.