5 Reasons to Implement a Strong & Consistent Opening Class Routine


5 Reasons to Implement a Strong & Consistent Opening Class Routine

Let's talk opening class routine. In other words, how do you begin your math class? You can call it a Problem of the Day, Do Now, Warmup, Opener, Quick Check, or something else, but you should begin every math class with an activator. This is important whether you're teaching in-person or on an online platform like Zoom. In this post, we'll discuss the benefits of a strong opening class routine.

Settle Students into Class

IN-PERSON: Having something for students to work on from the moment they walk in the door encourages your class to get in, sit down and focus. The expectation is set from the moment they enter your room that they should not be goofing around. Students focus on the math problem projected on the front board and get right to work. This settles their bodies and minds and gets them in a frame of mind needed to be open to learning new things.

REMOTE: Students have tons of distractions at home, and sometimes it's hard to make it feel like "school." By having an assignment that they must do from the moment they log in the your online platform, they turn their focus from whatever is happening around them to the math problem or problems you have chosen for your students to complete.

Send the Correct Message

IN PERSON: When students begin working on math right when they enter your classroom, they understand that they are there to learn. As the teacher, you are sending the message that they are there to focus and learn and grow - not fool around. To complete their work, they'll need to have their learning materials ready to go so they'll use the opportunity to take out their binder, sharpen their pencil, etc before class technically even begins.

REMOTE: By starting with an activator, you are sending the message that they are in class and they will be held accountable for their learning. Right away they must get in the correct mindset, focus, and prepare their materials and technology to be successful.

Free Activator Templates

Check Homework

IN PERSON: It can be tricky to find time to check homework without feeling like time is wasted. As students work on their activator, I walk around and check homework. So part of the routine is that students sit down, take out their binder and have homework ready to show me, and work on the problem or problems on the front board. Then we can quickly "begin" class by going over the activator, taking homework questions, and getting right into the lesson of the day.

REMOTE: Teachers, you are sharing that you have overloaded plates and you're exhausted and working more than ever. Is there a task that you can allocate to complete during the first 5 minutes? While students are working on their activator, use the time to check who completed virtual homework, organize your workspace, or maybe even just meditate for a few minutes before crazy online learning ensues. Be creative with this time for yourself.

Content Review Opportunity

IN PERSON: Be really selective in choosing your warmup problem. I try to choose math problems that include prerequisite skills they will need for the day's lesson. It could be material from the previous day, week, or even school year. What do they need to recall in order to be successful with that day's math lesson? Start there.

REMOTE: 2020 may be the first time you have found yourself remote teaching. It's much more difficult to gauge student understanding when students are not directly in front of you in-person. How can you use the activator to pinpoint what your students recall or not before beginning the next lesson? You could use problems related to the previous lesson. Google Forms may be a good resource here because you can gain instant insights about what the students in your class know when each student submits their answer. Kahoot could be another great resource to use here. If you teach high school, check out these video warmups from Algebra and Beyond.

5 Reasons to Implement a Strong & Consistent Opening Class Routine

Consistent Expectations

IN PERSON: More important than anything, be consistent in the expectations for your students. When are students allowed to sharpen their pencil, go to the bathroom, ask a question, etc? Know what you need in order to smoothly run a class, and make sure your students are clear on those expectations.

REMOTE: Be consistent in expectations and routines. Does their video need to be on? Are there consequences for being late? How will you monitor and encourage participation? Make sure students know what is expected of them and follow through. Depending on the age of your students, you could consider encouraging participation by having students rotate who tracks it. The student in charge of participation for the day, has a Google Sheet of student names and adds a checkmark every time a students contributes positively to the class.


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