Sunday, July 21, 2013

Minds on Math Chapter 6 - Opening

Chapter 6 is all about the importance of a good opening.  Ward Hoffer suggests that that there are 4 key aspects to an opening:  welcoming learners, activating prior knowledge, setting a purpose for the lesson, and managing homework.  While most of most of the chapter seemed to be common sense, there were a few points that Ward Hoffer made that made me think about the effectiveness of my openings, which honestly, I am prone to skip as a means of saving time.  

Ward Hoffer poses that an effective opener should set students up for success.  To do this, she writes that the problems posed as an opening must be accessible from multiple entry points because they ensure that "everyone can get started, everyone can experience some success, and you can still gather useful formative assessment data."

Two suggestions for activating prior knowledge were presented:  a problem of the day and conceptual conversations.  The conversations stood out to me for a couple of reasons.  One, it's something different than is probably seen in the typical classroom.  Two, the collaboration required in having a conversation would certainly give students an opportunity to activate and pull out those things that students already know.  

I found homework an interesting addition to this chapter.  While it certainly is part of most classroom's opening routing, I wounder how it would really fit into a 5 minute opening.  Personally, I post my homework answers on Edmodo so that students can check their own as they work.  It serves no purpose for students to work problems incorrectly and more often than not if a student knows his/her answer is incorrect he/she will go back and rework it to get it correct.  Students with questions either post them on Edmodo, or ask them at the beginning of class the next day.  (I post answers only and I only accept their homework if they have the work, this keeps them from turning in a sheet with my answers.)  

As an aside, I totally understand the "limited homework" rationale and I often question our "homework Monday-Thursday" routine.  The reality of it is, though, that when students get to high school and college the demands are intense (at least they are in my district...I'll have a junior this year...I know!).  I feel like if we don't prepare our students for the academic and work-habit/time management demands we haven't fully prepared them.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Melanie
    Homework is something I have really changed over the years. I really need to spend some time working on my lesson openings. I think Ward Hoffer gives some good examples of how to use this time productively to set the stage for the day's lesson.
    Thanks for linking up!


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