Day 159: Openers

This year I am really happy with the openers I give students each day. However, right now students are burnt out on estimating and visual patterns. I try not to repeat any single type of opener each week, but never seem to quite pull off the review/get-them-thinking about math sorta ones.

Whenever I pick an opener, I try and hit as many of these points as I can:

  • Low entry point so all students are engaged
  • Gets ’em thinking
  • Is relevant to the days lesson
  • Unfolds to become social
  • Takes under 10 minutes
  • Has some sorta aspect that allow students to self-correct

Today was a practice day on solving quadratic equations. Have a look at my opener:


I am in a weird limbo right now; I want to address misconceptions yet at the same time keep my students engaged because summer time is looming. Depending on how you look at these questions, the opener may hit on all the points above or miss ’em entirely.  In my classes, it produced maybe 50% engagement, while everyone else just wrote down everything down then filibustered.

Here are a couple a questions I have for everyone out there:

  1. On a typical day, what does your classroom look like during the first 10 minutes?
  2. If you have some sort of question on the board to start with, do you a) Have students share responses to the questions, b) Straight up show the answers/work, c) Work through the problems in front of the class, or d) Move on and collect them at a later time for grading.

I am surely overlooking some options for #2.

Maybe my methods are totally off.. Who knows? I am looking forward to some conversation/criticism.


8 thoughts on “Day 159: Openers

  1. First 10 min students work independently on “warm up” (I use quotes because these can sometimes go for 30 min with discussion, etc.). While they start I choose students with randomizer to show their work on the board. While they work on board all others compare with neighbors. Students who did work on board then explain. Works rather nicely.


    1. I have some classes where 90% of students will do the assignments. How would you deal with the sort of classes that have 20 or 30% of students completing the assignments?


      1. I’m sorry, but I don’t know.

        What I hear from teachers who have faced this is that lagging homework substantially increase completion, because many students don’t do it because they don’t know how when the homework is on new material. (

        At my school, much of Math 1 (weakest 9th graders) is about developing good work habits, so the idea is to keep it interesting and accessible, and save the hard end-of-book Alg 1 topics for Math 2 and 3 (Geom and Alg 2). Build on what those kids can do (think) not on their deficits (complicated abstract symbol manipulation.)

        The other thing is that because the first ten minutes are about group work about the homework, once you have a critical mass of kids who do it, the rest are under a bit of peer pressure.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The first ten minutes I walk up and down the rows stamping homework for completion while my classroom manager asks the students which problems they need help with. He or she then gets student volunteers to explain how to do the tough problems at the document camera (and tracks participation). Then we write in our planners.


    1. I like how your your routine is very student driven. With completion and you up and about, how do you deal with the students who copy off their neighbor right before (or during) the time you are coming around?


      1. Honestly, it isn’t a problem. There isn’t a benefit for them to cheat at homework isn’t worth much. We spend a lot of time talking about effort on homework being the means to learning. I am pretty fast when I walk around too. 🙂
        I think I have a unique situation though as I teach an elite independent school. My students are motivated.


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