Sunday, September 2, 2012

Best. Warm-up. Idea. Ever.

Previous Warm-Up Questions:  (Yawn)

Last school year, I observed another teacher and picked up this idea from him, to have questions on the board for students to complete as they walked in the room.  OK, this is not a new idea.  Call them warm-up questions, bell-ringers, whatever.  I've heard of them before, and this was just a good reminder that I should be doing them too.  At one point, he did need to poke his head in the room (he was monitoring the hallway) and remind students to get to work on the questions.

I took this idea back to my room and seemed to have the same problem.  Most students came into the room and started on the questions as they should, be there were always the same few who sat in their seats and ignored the problems on the board.  I felt like a broken record, "Sit down, get your journals out, write the questions, answer the questions, discuss your answer with your neighbors, blah, blah, blah."  I was sick and tired of listening to my own voice.

I'm going to change the subject now to first day activities:

I decided to try something different for the first few day of school this year.  And you can find this "something" here.  You will see activities to have your students get to know each other and find their seats.  I thought that was a nice little blend of first day activities.  The website offers a few different ideas to try a few days in a row.  I made up my mind to do this for about 3 days before I gave the students their permanent seats.  I feel that I learned the students' names faster this year because I linked their names with their faces rather than their seats.

On the third day of this, the light bulb went off when this one girl walked in the room.  I had this student in class before, and she was one of those that sat in her seat and ignored the warm-up problems.  When she walked into class that day, she immediately looked at the board and asked, "So, what are we doing today?" and then she READ the board.  Light-bulb!!!

Put the two ideas together:

I'm not going to give my students assigned seats this year.  In order to find their seats, they must do the warm-up problem.  This way they can't sit down and ignore the board because they don't know where to sit down.  Genius!

On Thursday, I told the students to get into groups of 3-4 based on their shirt colors (we have uniforms red, white, and blue).   OK, this is not a math problem, but who said it had to be?

 Friday was awesome.  I gave each student an index card with a fraction on it.  They needed to sit so that the fractions were in order from least to greatest.  I thought the students would hate that one, but they said it was the best so far.

Here's what I have planned so far for next week:

On Tuesday, I have multiple choice questions on index cards that are geared toward our state tests.  Those students who have an answer of A, will sit in row 1; B row 2; C row 3; D row 4; and I have 4 questions where the correct answer isn't list, those students will sit in row 5.
On Wednesday, I have clues written on index cards.  There are 4 different clues to answer the question, "What number am I?"  The students need to sit in groups of 4 making sure that there are no repeat clues within the group.  Once they find their group members, they need to figure out the riddle.  Here are the clues:

What number am I?
I am not divisible by 2.
If you reverse my two digits, I would be 18 less than I am now.
If you add my two digits together, you would get a perfect square.
If you add 3 to me, you would get a perfect square.

Answer:  97 (double check me on that)

We've only been back in school 5 days, but I can tell you who my class leaders are already.  It's nice to sit back and watch them work together.  Once in a while I will intervene, and offer a suggestion, or point out that Little Suzy has a good idea.  But for the most part, I let them work it out.

Most of these I can reuse, like the fraction and multiple choice warm-ups.

Now, I need to keep this going for another 175 days.  Any ideas?


  1. Thanks for sharing! I really like this idea, especially because I have one of my classes for both math and science - in science, I want them to stay in the same groups for longer periods, but I know that will make them antsy to mix it up in math... I think I might implement your idea on a weekly basis, so that in math they have new seats every week. I don't have any other mathy ideas yet, but there are always the old standby -- get in order of...height, birthday, second letter of your last name... for those days when you need something at the last minute :)

  2. Wow! This is a great idea but I don't think I could keep it up everyday! lol! I love it but will probably do it once a month. With what you have so far, you almost have me covered. I love it. Also, Frank has a GREAT post on grouping that I did this year and I loved it! Be sure to check out the comments as people listed tons of new ideas for groups in there!

  3. About how long does it take for the students to do the activity? I only have 50 minutes classes. I can't afford more than 5 minutes on something like this...It sounds great for a block schedule though...I already do bell ringers the first 5 minutes so this might be doable and students might actually do them...

    1. Since writing this post I have fallen into somewhat of a routine. Mostly I have index cards with problems geared toward our state tests (The Keystones). Students know that if their answer is A they sit in row 1, etc. It takes most of the students about 3-4 minutes to find their seats. This is exactly the amount of time I need to take attendance and get ready for class. Once in a while if I need the students in groups I will get a little more creative, but that’s not what I would call a daily routine.