My beginning-of-class routine has evolved over the course of my career.
In the beginning, I simply did a “DO-NOW” which rarely involved mathematical thought at all. It was a daily reminder about having necessary materials out and being “with it” before the late bell. It was a classroom management strategy for a new teacher – that’s about it.
Next, I started more of a “problem-of-the-day” idea… which sometimes, due to time constraints, reverted back to being a “DO-NOW”. When the warm-up was a math problem, students *knew* I was going to work the thing out if they’d just be patient and wait for me, so it felt like a little coffee break for them. I was fortunate if the ones who didn’t try the problem in the first place took the initiative to at least copy it from me.
So, I decided I wanted students to reflect about their work. I created a two-column warm-up template with a problem on the left side, and the heading: “FIRST ATTEMPT – DON’T ERASE!” On the right, the column’s title was “CORRECT SOLUTION” and the goal was a parallel comparison of potential errors to correct methods. I signed each and every student paper every day to see their work and acknowledge that each student’s “first attempt” had been made before I walked through the solution, or had a student present one way of solving the problem at hand. They had to solve the problem, get my signature, and copy the correct solution every day to receive credit. I collected these sheets on a weekly basis, but didn’t really hold students accountable for the content once warm-up time was over. They reflected… but did anything help them change their thinking if they were wrong?
I still don’t know if I have this thing right, but this year, having iPads has changed my warm-up routine yet again. I still have the parallel comparison idea, but there’s no more walking around and signing papers every day. Of course I walk around and peek at papers to see what students are thinking, give real-time feedback, and check that they are truly making their own “FIRST ATTEMPT”… but with Socrative, we have introduced accountability.
Students know that Friday every week, they will have a “Socrative Warm-Ups Quiz”. Of the 5 warm-ups students complete during the week, 3 problems will be on the warm-ups quiz that are “inspired by” the warm-ups that week. Students are allowed to use their warm-ups papers as they take the quiz on Socrative, and my goal is never to trick them. I keep my promise every week that the 3 problems are different, but are related to the warm-ups.
Even with all of these supports in place, the classroom during the Socrative warm-ups quiz is intense! They are SO CAREFUL to touch the correct answer choice, because they know there is no recourse if they touch the wrong thing. They also cherish the question at the end of each quiz, asking for feedback. I get all sorts of little notes and giggles that wouldn’t happen without this quiz format. I see personality in some students that are otherwise quiet… (Exhibit A… ahem, Guy on a Buffalo?!?)
We’ve had to work through some bumps and bruises along the way, some of which I have blogged about before (such as, Socrative doesn’t let you navigate between questions or change your answer choice once you’ve touched the screen). After doing this routine for 5 straight weeks, I think we’ve overcome our growing pains with respect to Socrative’s limitations. You just can’t beat the instant feedback for each question, the cheers and jeers during the quizzing process, and the color-coded data report I receive in an e-mail and display for the class mere moments after the quiz is complete.
Students are now responsible for compiling and organizing their warm-ups sheets throughout the course, and I no longer sift through piles of warm-ups papers. Students are held accountable for the content. Right now, my warm-ups serve as a spiral review of topics done more recently as well as in the past, with the hopes of incrementally preparing for our upcoming semester exam. These daily bite-sized math chunks will make a heck of a study guide.
Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear about your warm-up routine as well.