I used to dislike the idea of beginning class with a warm-up or “do now,” or a “bell ringer,” as they’re sometimes called. It seemed like a waste of time or a way to force compliance from kids from the first second of class onwards. Then, in my third year of teaching, I had a principal who taught me the magic of a good warm-up. I prefer to call them warm-up’s, because that’s precisely what they should do for students: set them up for learning today. Since then, I’ve used warm-up’s every single day in a majority of my classes, especially with my younger students.

I used to have this whole warm-up scheme where students would complete four problems relating to the unit we were working on, or previous units. Then at the end of the week, their last warm-up was actually a quiz. This year, my school is moving to block schedules, so I’m revamping my warm-up to be more of an engaging game. I plan to use these in my Algebra 1, Physics, and Programming classes.

Which one doesn’t belong?

If you teach math, this one has a whole book and website dedicated to it! The directions for the student are simple: identify which of the four options does NOT have something in common with the others and EXPLAIN why. The tricky part for the teacher is making it so that all four choices are a valid answer. Let’s look at an example, which I’ve modified for distance learning (yay, Google Forms!).

For physics, I think I’ll draw my own diagrams. The Physics Classroom also has two good online versions for kinematics and Newton’s Laws, at least.

I’m still brainstorming for programming.

Two truths and a lie

A get-to-know-you classic, I think this one could easily be modified for academic subjects. A cursory internet search shows me many others agree! I actually think this one will be easier to make for physics.

For example, which one is the lie?*

  1. A box feels no force as it slides down a ramp at a constant speed.
  2. Gravity acts on the box during its entire slide down the ramp.
  3. The force of friction points opposite of the box’s velocity.

Here’s the answer, what’s the question?

A.K.A. Jeopardy-style questions. But saying Jeopardy makes it sound like I’m going to do some awful whole-class Jeopardy game where one kid answers all the questions and no one learns anything.

How I’d do THIS, however, is simply give the students an “answer,” and ask them what the question could be.

I think this would be especially cool in programming.

For example, this is the answer:


What is the question?**

Hope this gave you some ideas! I would LOVE to know if you try any of them – let me know!



*Answer: 1. (was that too easy??) A box DOES experience forces as it slides down a ramp at a constant speed, they just cancel each other out exactly.

**Possible answers (in Python):

print("a \naaa \naaaaa")
for i in range(3):
    print("a" + "a" *2*i)


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