I want to be more deliberate with my warm-ups this year. I think warm-ups have three possible purposes:
- Elicit student thinking (see what they already know, activate prior knowledge)
- Practice retrieval (spiral review, spaced practice)
- Give feedback (review homework, circle back to prior work)
I’m going to dispense with #3 for the purpose of this post. My goal is to plan for warm-ups that address #1 and #2, which allows me to look at their homework and give feedback after the warm-up.
Well there’s plenty to choose from. Here is what I am considering:
- Talking Points
- Visual Patterns
- Number Talks
- Estimation 180
- Graphing Stories
- Open Middle Problems
- Counting Circles
- Match My Desmos
- Which One Doesn’t Belong?
- My Favorite No
- Would You Rather?
- Error Analysis
- Table Debate via Chris Luzniak (assign students to support or refute a mathematical statement, and let them duke it out)
In terms of driving student learning, I want to either elicit student thinking or practice retrieval. I want to do fewer warm-ups that have the broad goal of “problem solving” but aren’t attached to content that is connected to the course. We can do that problem solving with the math we’re learning — that’s why we’re learning it.
I’m a little torn over whether I want to pick a subset of these to stick with on a weekly rotation, or try to match my warm-ups to what my goals are for that specific day. I would love to be more flexible — I want to provide students with a wide variety of activities, and I have that variety here. But I also want consistent routines, where students can start the warm-up independently and allow me an opportunity to check homework and check in with any student who needs it.
A Possible Approach
I’m teaching Algebra-II and Pre-Calculus this semester. I think the warm-ups that best support the content we’ll be working on are Visual Patterns, Match My Desmos, Which One Doesn’t Belong, and Error Analysis. I also like these because students can start them on their own, and do some quality independent thinking to start class before we discuss. I’ll also be using My Favorite No to go over homework (separate from the warm-up). The warm-ups I’m torn about are Table Debates and Talking Points. I love these structures and want them to be a part of my class, but it will also be tougher to set this up without some direction from me at the start of class — the others can all pretty much run themselves to start. These discussion activities may have to live somewhere else in my daily class structure.
I’m still unsure whether I want to bring in a wide variety of warm-ups. I love all of these structures — but as much as I love them, students need consistency, especially as we won’t be lingering for too long on these each day.
Are there other great warm-up strategies that I’m missing? What structures can make this part of class more meaningful?