Warming up (revisited)

I was really good about starting most classes (excluding quiz days, normally) with a warm up problem or two. I loved how it got the kids working immediately, gave me time to get my stuff together for class, and even gave me a few minutes to check homework (if I was going to).

And, most importantly, I think a lot of learning happened through those warm ups. Sometimes it was from kids asking each other for help, sometimes it was prompting them to think about a problem a different way, sometimes it was extending their thinking on a problem. Sometimes I reviewed a topic we hadn't seen in a while, sometimes I gave a question as a preview of things to come.

When it appeared that most were done, I'd take a few minutes to talk through (or have students talk through) the answer. This could take up to 15 minutes in class total.

In one of my evaluations a mention was made by my principal about setting a timer; it's something I always considered doing but didn't want to push kids through the problem without giving them a chance to think. And yet it would help with the dawdlers who I constantly had to tell to get working.

I gave the kids a new warm up sheet every two weeks; it has 10 blank spots on it, so after those two weeks were up I would collect the sheet and give them a completion score. One point per day that we had a warm up. So basically, not a big deal unless you didn't turn in the sheets a few times.

I've toyed with the idea of having the kids leave their warm ups in the table folders with the idea that I would periodically check them. I haven't figured out why that isn't a good idea yet. Aside from not making the kids responsible for a paper for 10 days in a row. 

So here's my question...
Do you do warm ups in class? If so, how do you work it? Do you set a timer? Do you grade them? Do you have a better way of doing warm ups?

Sorry, that's more than one question. But all feedback is appreciated! 


  1. Hi Kristen! Up to now I've done more or less daily warm-ups using the same general process as you. I grade them similar to homework, they did it, or didn't, and made any corrections in red ink so I could see that they hopefully could better review and learn from mistakes. The last year and a half I've had them do them in the dreaded college blue books. I did that so I could collect periodically and evaluate, but also because it gave plenty of room for the times I wanted to ask a reflection question for a warm-up. I like the blue book piece, but need to evaluate the what I give as warm-up piece.

  2. I don't do traditional "warm-ups" but I do give instructions, including an intro task, on my opening slide. But the thing I wanted to mention to you is that on my slide, I always place a little QuickTime movie that is a Countdown Timer of whatever length I want to use. When the kids see the countdown timer rolling on the screen, it creates that wonderful sense of urgency but without making anybody feel rushed.

    At TMC, I can share my little movies I found and adapted.

    - Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

  3. Since we are a Marzano school we have an emphasis on using warm-ups each day in every classroom. Last year I made them turn them in which created a little bit of accountability, but student's weren't use to the getting into the room and working. I would have them do the whole week and turn it in on Friday.

    I didn't set a timer, but I would say you have 5 minutes, which I looked at the clock and kept pretty good time of myself.

    This year I plan on not grading them, we will go over them in class so what is the purpose of grading them? I also plan on including a prior knowledge question from the previous day and an ACT Prep problem to get the juniors ready for the ACT. I may still have them turn it in, but just not grade them.

  4. I do warm ups every day and set a timer. For my AP class, I'm not strict about the time (they're working, sometimes it takes longer) or the checking. For my other classes, I set a timer and also give a 30 second warning--its 2-5 minutes overall. Otherwise, they take 5 minutes getting prepared to do their work and class takes much longer to get started. I have a roster on my clipboard and just check it off, then once I fill up a sheet enter a single grade. It amounts to almost nothing but I like the accountability and it gives me another quick chance to see where my students are at, common mistakes, unclear work, etc.


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