Example Warm-Ups: Programming Fall 2020

You may know, I love a good 5-minute warm-up to start each class. I’ve ALWAYS used these in my Algebra 1 classes, but when I heard we’d be entirely remote again this fall, I thought it’d be good to do warm-ups in all of my classes and it’s totally paid off.

I’d brainstormed some clever ideas in the summer, and have been testing some of them out and coming up with new ideas as the year has progressed. The main thing I keep in mind while making these is that I want ALL students to be able to have some sort of answer to them. So open-ended or multiple-correct questions are the best.

Warm-ups are a new addition to my programming class this year (which I previously mentioned has a first year and second year students in it). These are some of the ones I’ve used so far:

This one was for our first day of class! Students probably already knew what most of these items were. Most ended up choosing the internal hard drive and said it wasn’t something the user directly interacted with or touched.

Another Which One Doesn’t Belong (WODB), this one got students thinking about print statements and functions. I personally would’ve said the bottom left didn’t belong, because it’s the only one that returned “Hello” instead of “Hello World,” but the majority of my students chose the top right.

I made this one after noticing that my first year students were being weird with spaces in their code. In reality this question was a trick question, because both code snippets print the statement, but stylistically the right one is better.

I LOVE putting error correction questions on my programming tests, so I thought why not put some on their warm-ups!? My students caught almost all of the errors. The most surprising part to me what that they all missed that line 10 should be indented.

Another error correction warm-up (whoops, you can see I didn’t change the date on this one!), this one got students thinking about more complicated syntax. While I was happy to see all the different errors students noticed, I was mostly looking to see if they caught that line 4 needed two equal signs.

This one worked particularly well for my first AND second year students. Every student answered the first question correctly, a handful were able to come up with clever ways to rewrite this code (though funnily enough, even my second year students didn’t type the simplest: y = x**2), and only one student was able to correctly explain why None was returned. This is a very advanced concept in an intro Python class, but I think it’s good to get my students used to seeing questions they may have NO idea how to answer, in order to build up their frustration tolerance which is key to any successful programmer.

While my WODB warm-ups were fun to start the year with, and might be good to start each new unit with, doing syntax or error corrections warm-ups gives me quick, actionable data to help my students immediately. They also love not knowing how many errors there are and they compete with each other to see who can catch the most!

Python errors – gotta catch ’em all!


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