Weekly Warm Ups to Engage Students

I gave this PD at Curriculum Day for our teachers with the goal goal of giving teachers ideas for engaging students in warm-ups each day. The various approaches of problem solving, reflective thinking, and visual learning challenges students to think creatively. Each day is a different theme that differentiates for students and will help hook students at the beginning of class. Click the links and read below for resources.

Warm Up Training Powerpoint

Word doc Warm up Template

Below is the explanation of warm ups, but you can find the Word Doc here.

Mental Math Monday

  • This day is great because it requires little to no prep on your part. The goal of this day is to simply get kids thinking about math and working on building their arithmetic skills.
  • We suggest just calling arithmetic steps out loud and having students follow along to what the answer is in their head (i.e. start with the number 4 and have students add 2, then multiply by 3, subtract 12, divide by 3, add 15, and then record their answer).
  • The level of difficulty can also be adjusted easily for the level of class you teach or the topic you are covering. For example, if you are in a Geometry class working with right triangles you might add in squaring or square rooting numbers.  Another example could be in a Pre-Cal class having students do the trigonometric values from the unit circle.
  • Depending upon the level of difficulty you are suggesting with the problems we would recommend keeping it to under 5 problems that way the warm up does not take up too much class time.
  • An “I chart” or “X factor” can be used in an Algebra I/II class to help students start working on factoring skills.

Think it Through Tuesday

  • This day is about having the students work on problems that require more thought or comparison and estimation.
  • The website, http://www.estimation180.com/ has problems on estimation already created for you.
  • This is also a good day to put up a really challenging problem over the topic you are discussing in class or have discussed in class to allow students to try and work their way through the problem without the stress.

Which One Doesn’t Belong Wednesday

  • This day is about getting students to compare given information and practice writing justifications in a math classroom. The students will be given 4 choices and be asked to determine which image does not belong with the others.  The students are then required to write an argument as to why that image does not belong using complete sentences.
  • The website, http://wodb.ca/shapes.html has already created several examples for you to use in your classroom.
  • The students really enjoy this day because it allows them to choose an answer that cannot be counted wrong provided they create a valid argument for their answer choice using complete sentences.
  • This theme also lends itself to topics you are covering in class currently or as an introduction to a new topic. It can let you know what information students already know and what they are familiar with.

Throwback Thursday

  • This day is exactly what it says, a throwback. It is intended as a day to either put up a problem over previously taught material to ensure that students still recall that information or to check in with students on the week.
  • The problem you choose to put on the board can be something from the beginning of the school year, last year, or even last week. One way to use this day is to put up a problem over something taught that they will be building on with the lesson that day. For example, if you are teaching the substitution method in your Algebra class today, then you might want to put a problem about solving a multi-step equation.  Another example might be to have a warm up problem on factoring or simplifying radicals if you are teaching students to solve quadratic equations by completing the square in your Algebra 2 class.
  • If you choose to check in, consider asking questions like “what is one thing you learned this week” or “what is something you are proud of.” You can students write these on half sheets of paper or notecards. For us, we allowed math and non-math answers as they wanted to tell us things they learned in German class or how they won their Friday night game. They are a great way to learn more about your students and check in with them academically and socially.

Favorite No Friday

  • This day is designed to incorporate the strategy of Favorite No shown to us last Curriculum Day. The teacher puts a problem on the board along with their favorite wrong answer they received from a student.
  • This is a great way to review common mistakes with the class and have them practicing higher level thinking from Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • The students enjoy finding the mistakes that others (or they) have made.
  • This can be your favorite no from the last quiz, test, homework assignment, or even last year’s STAAR test.

These warm up themes allow you to have structure at the beginning of each class period that do not require a lot of prep on your part.  It also gives you the freedom to choose what you would like the material of the warm up to cover.  The students enjoy knowing what class will look like every day and that each day is a little varied from the day before.

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