Words Cannot Express

Pflugerville Secondary ELA Department News and Tips

Using Warm-Ups Effectively

Are warm-ups the bane of your existence? They used to be mine at one time! But then I realized that starting class with a meaningful warm-up provided a time for my students to limber-up their brain for thinking. After years of teaching, I learned that just because students walk into my classroom and compliantly sit down in their desks does not mean that they are ready to take on ELA for the day. Athletes and musicians warm up before they play, so why wouldn’t we need to warm up our thinking muscles to be ready for the work ahead. Signaling our brain to be present in the moment, instead of lingering on what happened in the hall or what happened in the class before ELA, is also important. By having an established warm-up, students are given an opportunity to reset their mind to your content and your expectations.

Even though warm-ups should be viewed as a key component of the classroom schedule, they are often one of the first routines to be abandoned as the year progresses. The following reminders are key to developing a sustainable system.

· Be sure that your warm-ups are aligned to class objectives. If they are not, students will feel confused or frustrated and may decide to tune out.

· Use a variety of question styles. Multiple-choice, open ended, brain teasers and inferences are all great options.

· Requiring students to review/seek information through a variety of modes.

· Warm-ups are a perfect example of formative assessments so be sure to use that data to guide your instruction. They let you know if students bring prior knowledge, harbor misunderstandings and to what degree the information will need to be differentiated to meet the diverse needs student of your students.

· Be efficient. Create a system of organization so you can share warm-ups with colleagues and reuse warm-ups for upcoming years.

Above all, it is important that you have clear expectations and procedures. If you want warm-ups to take place in a journal and responses to be in complete sentences, be sure students know this. Consistency is key-when students know what to expect every day, less time will be wasted.

I am sharing a spiraled skills warm-up plan that takes into account all of the above mentioned recommendations. Check out the outline and resources below. I have included quite a few weeks of warm-ups already created in the links below!

Spiraled Skills Warm-Ups:

Media Mondays

Analyze an author's message or data through a graphic representation.

Tell about it Tuesdays

Read a document, problem or poem. Retell, in your own words, what is being communicated.

Word Attack Wednesday

Students play with academic vocabulary through various activities.

Think about it Thursday

Compose a high level question that reflects back to a lesson, literature, lab or mathematical process.

Figure it out Friday

Students do an analysis of information

Bonus Idea!

Tri-Fold Expository Prompt Processing

The bonus idea is a Tri-Fold Prompt Processing activity! This is a great way to get students to think through the charge of the expository prompt, come up with ideas, and compose a thesis with ease! Check it out!

If you need further explanation, please let me know and I will be happy to answer your questions!

Cortney Esquitin, Secondary ELA Coordinator