Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Getting Started with Warm-ups

One of my procedures is what I call the "start-of-class" procedures.  The first thing I teach my new students each year is how to come into the classroom and what to do to get ready for the day.

When students walk in the room there is a PowerPoint projected on the board.  It looks pretty much the same every day -

  • Date
  • Agenda
  • What to take out (homework, iPad, etc)
  • Task for the day
  • Upcoming tests or quizes
  • Homework
  • Journal Question

Typical slide that is posted everyday as students walk into the classroom.

The Journal Question is a short question that reviews material from a day or two before. This acts as the warm-up for my class.  
Our Journals are composition books.  These journals serve a combination interactive notebook/place to record warm-ups/whatever else I need them to be. 

My students keep their journals in the classroom.  I have a drawer for each class period, and they grab their journal as they walk in.  In my previous school, I kept the journals in tubs on a table by the door.

My ppt for each day is three slide (15 slides for a week).  

  • Slide 1 has the above information - date, agenda, journal question. 
  • Slide 2 is identical to slide 1 with the addition of a "countdown timer" I put on the slide. At the official start time of class, I advance the first slide to the slide with the timer.  The timer is set for 120 seconds. Students have two minutes to finish the question, pass in homework, whatever is needed for that day. While they are doing this, I take attendance, check make-up work, and so on.
  • At the end of the 120 seconds, I advance the slide again to the third slide to show a possible answer to the question.  We spend a minute or two reviewing and discussing the answer.  This acts as a mini-lecture to get kids focused on the content.  Students may add to or change anything in their answer they wish.  Often I ask them to make a special note, or underline or highlight something in the answer.

The "timer" I put on the slides is in the bottom right corner.

I randomly check journals whenever I have a chance, sometimes during class, sometimes after class.   I do this for every class period once or twice a grading period. I don't announce these checks.

Once a grading period we have a Journal Quiz.  Students can use their journals during the quiz.  The quiz is a combination of content questions covering the material they have written about in the journal and some organization questions, such as "How many journal entries have we had?"

My journal questions cover the material we have been studying in class.  You can find my questions on HERE.

Once a semester I grade for completeness and accuracy.  This is announced. I use a simple checklist for this.  I print the checklist on mailing labels and stick them on the next blank page in the journal.  (You can download the checklist here.)

Sometimes I grade a specific assignment.  This is often data from a lab or observations of a demo or exploration.  This is announced.

I've used some form of this procedure in two different schools and three different grades.  It's been a good system for me.

*****I have switched up my formatting for my agenda some. You can see my new format and the reason for it HERE.

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