You know those CRAZY first 5 minutes of your class when it seems like all of your kids are running around and yelling that they don’t have a pencil. When kids coming up to your desk telling you they were absent the day before. And, the school secretary is calling you and asking why you haven’t submitted your roll yet. You need a SUPER SIMPLE science warm up to make those first few minute of class.
3 Reasons Science Warm Ups are SOOO Important
When I taught high school, I don’t remember there being this much chaos in these first 5 minutes. I feel like I just put up my warm-up and put my feet up. Okay, probably not.
But, middle school is really a whole new ballgame. I have had to establish and reteach opening procedures over and over and OVER again.
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Reason #1: It helps you manage the chaos.
If you students don’t have something predictable to do when they walk into your room, the shenanigans that took place outside of your classroom will roll right in. Like, one time I literally had a game of tag come into my classroom. Coming from high school, this was unheard of. So, I totally wasn’t prepared for the chaos that middle schoolers brought.
Having a predictable routine made this much more tolerable. Though it took some training, eventually my students came into the classroom, took out their supplies and got to work.
Reason #2: It gives you minute to check in.
If your first few minutes are stress free, this gives you the chance to check in with your high-needs students. Sometimes this looks like previewing the lesson. Other times, and SEL check-in is what is needed.
Spending a little time here will make the rest of your class run much better. And, this is an easy way to allocate time to building relationships with your students.
Reason #3: It lets you transition.
If I’m not checking in with students, I like to use this time to transition between classes.
I have a confession. I’m incredibly messy. I’m the kind of person who ends the day with piles all over my desk with no idea where they came from.
However, if I take a minute or two at the beginning of class to reorganize myself, my day ends without a huge mess for me to clean up. And, I can actually find things when I’m looking for them. Spending a few minutes at the beginning of each class helps me stay organized.
A Note On Exit Tickets
I like to grade exit tickets from one class before I completely transition to the next. Why? This strategy allows me to adjust my teaching by figuring out where I missed the mark.
Two Simple Strategies for Science Warm Ups
Warm-ups are an activity that students can manage all on their own. Teach your students the procedure and earn back those first 5 minutes of class. Students run the warm-ups when I am out and have a substitute teacher in my room. (Learn more about strategies to help students be more independent here.)
Option #1 Using a Paper-Based Science Warm Up
On Monday, we set up our warm up pages. Students fold a piece of printer paper into 4 sections. They write their name and dates on the front and back of the page.
Then, on Tuesday-Friday, we do a short 5-minute warm-up. I keep the warm-ups in a binder located by my document camera. The same template can be used every week. (I usually handwrite them, but I included this one as a bonus in my experimental design bundle for middle school.)
The first page is for the questions and the second page is for the answers. The warm-up for each day goes into a box . I zoom into that box with the document camera so that they can’t see the other days. They have roughly minutes to answer the questions on their own sheet of paper, which is just a sheet of paper that they fold into 4’s.
We spend a few minutes setting up the warm up on Monday. Then, Tuesday through Friday, I write the warm up directly on the sheet. From there, I just project it under my document camera. I give students a few minutes to answer the question before I review it.
To see a video of what this looks like, check out my instagram page.
Reviewing the warm up.
When the 5 minutes are up, I simply flip to the next page and write down student answer. The students get credit for completing the warm up and are able to self-check their work. The following week, we repeat the process on the backside. At the end of 2 weeks, I collect the papers.
What about Monday?
On the first Monday, we usually set up the warm-up for the entire two-week warm-up. I have them write little reminders to themselves if we have a significant event. For example, if I am going to have a substitute teacher and I know about it, I have them write sub next to the date.
On the second Monday, I usually have them check their grades and fill out self-evaluation that I create on google forms. I ask them to check their grades online, note the number of missing assignments that they have, set goals and let me know how they are feeling about the class.
Option #2: Post your warm up on your daily agenda presentation.
A few years ago, I started using an agenda slide per day. I love this because it helps students figure out what they missed if they are absent. And, it helps them go back and look at work if they didn’t complete everything they needed to get done.
Here is an example of an agenda slide that I have used in my classroom.
In this case, I linked to a set of warm up slides. However, you can write you question directly on your agenda slide.