As I age, I’ve noticed that warming up before exercise is becoming more and more important. Walking a couple of blocks before I start jogging really does help me get my body and mind ready for the task ahead and avoid injury. When I think about applying the metaphor to school, it makes sense: I may not get “injured” in the academic aerobics in which I participate, but it’s certainly helpful to take a bit of time to reset and remember, before engaging in new learning. Thus, whether anticipating physical or mental exercise, I am a proponent of warm-ups. Like preparing myself for a run, I find them to be a way of refocusing my students’ minds on math during the first five minutes of the period. The key word in that sentence is “five.” Unless I set a timer for myself, that five minutes can easily turn into 10 or 12. Like when I run, if I don’t push a little harder, my progress is going to be slow.
Forty-five minute class periods do not allow teachers to be as effective as we would like to be with our students. When trying to figure out how to structure that precious time, we have to think hard about what which pieces have the greatest impact on student learning. One piece that is often under fire is the daily warm-up; I’m here to remind you: it’s worthy!
Beyond using warm-ups to review the concepts of the previous day and/or to preview the day’s upcoming lesson, Jessica Bogie a high school level Geometry and 6th grade math teacher (and blogger – Algebrainiac), proposes that warm-ups are good for conversation about math ideas – a worthy idea! Jessica hosted an episode on Global Math called Warm-ups = What Are They Good For? . She suggests a two-week rotating schedule of warm-ups:
I’ve blogged before about my love for Estimation 180 here and here and Would you Rather here, so I was happy to see both in her 10-day rotating schedule. I love the Visual Patterns site and Math Mistakes well and will likely blog about them in the future.
With much buzz about Carol Dweck’s Mindset theory applying in education, having a Mindset Moment Monday every month is a great way to continue the conversation all year. Check out the list of short videos that Marisa from the blog, La Vie Mathématique, posted on the topic.
Another warm-ups resource Jessica mentions, is Lisa Bejarano’s Filing Cabinet of Warm-ups on the Crazy Math Teacher Lady blog. Lisa teaches Geometry and blogs about the lessons she teaches. This list repeats some sources I’ve listed but offers new ones as well.
So, praise be to warm-ups; just as physical ones get our bodies ready for the exertion of exercise, these mental ones get our minds ready for the hard work of learning!