As a middle school ELA teacher, I became aware very quickly that there are NOT enough minutes in a class period to possibly address all of the Common Core State Standards. After experimenting with a variety of different lesson planning and scheduling strategies, I landed on this. Whether you call them warm ups, bell ringers or do nows- those first 7-10 minutes of class are the most precious minutes you have! These are the few focused minutes before I accidentally get so swept into a novel that I lose track of time. The end of class bell is my enemy, so I needed to fall in love with that first bell.
I use my warm ups to strategically schedule the elements I all too often overlook. On Mixed Up Mondays, we solve analogies. On Typo Tuesdays, I prosecute the grammar crimes that keep me up at night. Then, on Writer Wednesdays, we add volume to our Writer’s Notebooks. Later, on Thoughtful Thursdays, we analyze and write constructed responses. And on Fridays, we reflect on our learning. We never miss one. This has improved on-task behavior more than I can even explain! Students love knowing exactly what to expect when they walk in the room. We are a well oiled machine through the entire warm up.
That’s important, because after the warm up, I can’t be responsible for student writing that is so amazing I have to change directions, or character development conversations that take a full class period because we get emotional. Take a peek at the video to get a closer look!