How We Teach is the Message

How We Warm-Up

In July 2008 I attended an AP Summer Institute with Stacey McMullen, an AP Calculus teacher from Dallas ISD. The institute was FABULOUS!! I learned so much from Stacey–and this learning was definitely transferred on to my students. One of the (many) things I learned from her was a new Warm-Up procedure. Here’s how I’ve adapted it to my class.

Class starts every period with 5 minutes on the board thanks to the free Online Stopwatch site. Students have 5 minutes to work on their Warm-Ups, while I check HW and take attendance.

Each Monday, students are given a new Warm-Ups questions page (see the examples below) and a blank Warm-Ups template (see the example at left). The template  stays the same every week — students just fill in a different week number at the top. It is setup for 10 different questions — two graphs, two tables, and six short answer questions. One of the big emphases of AP Calculus is understanding math using multiple representations (physical, verbal, analytic, numerical, and graphical). Setting up my Warm-Ups with graphs, tables, and short answer sections makes my students practice these multiple representations on a weekly basis.

Students store these Warm-Up pages in a folder with a self-adhesive fastener across the top of it. These folders are stored in a “folder holder” in a corner of my classroom. At the beginning of each period, students come in, grab their folder, and get to work on their warm-ups. Once the 5 minutes are up, they place their warm-up folders back in the holding area until the next day.

The Warm-Up question documents, shown below, are written to include two graphing questions, two table questions, and six short answer questions. I usually include a mix of problems on these — some problems over recent studies, some over previous studies (review), and some foreshadowing what is  coming soon.

What I Like About This Process

Students know what to expect on a weekly basis. They come in and get right to work, with very little time wasted while I do administrative things.

Students are reviewing a variety of concepts on a daily/weekly basis. When we get closer to state-assessments, I cycle a few state-assessment questions into the Warm-Ups each week.

Students are practicing mathematics using multiple representations, which helps to cement big ideas, while also preparing them for Calculus studies.


What Do You Think?

How do you “warm-up” your students at the beginning of class?


Michelle Rinehart

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