Instead of chitter chatter and wasted time, get students on task right away. We have so little instructional time and so many tasks to complete! In a departmentalized setting, you may have just 45 minutes with your class. How can we make the most of our time? A strategy that’s an oldie but a goodie is using a warm-up or bellringer. Here are 5 tips for using warm-ups.
1. Start right away!
Start using warm-ups on day 1. It doesn’t have to be the format you plan to use all year, but get students used to starting class off with a brief activity. If you want to start using warm-ups but haven’t, it’s okay to start! Just make your expectations clear and get to it.
2. Keep it quick.
You have loads of content to teach, so don’t spend half of your class time on a warm-up. I prefer to spend 5 minutes maximum setting up for class and completing the warm-up. The warm-ups are usually over the previous topic students learned about so it’s fresh on their minds and they have notes in their science notebooks if they need a refresher!
3. Go over it.
You might want to go over the warm-up that day or wait until Friday to go over students’ answers. After students complete their warm-up, we go over it briefly while I randomly choose students to answer various parts of the question of the day to help keep them accountable. I usually try to twist the question a bit and ask an additional question for students to respond to based on the warm-up.
4. Print for the week!
I like to print a paper copy of the warm-up front and back for the whole week. It’s labeled Day 1-5 so students know what question to answer on which day. On Monday, the warm-ups are passed out. On Friday, I collect all the warm-ups to spot check.
5. No grading!
I expect students to complete the warm-ups, but I do not take a grade on them. The first few weeks of school I check them more carefully and provide feedback either verbally or written on what I expect. Because we go over the warm-up each day, there is no excuse for incomplete work. After students are in the routine, I can just glance and put a checkmark before returning the warm-ups with graded work.