Warm Ups that Work!

It's Secondary Smorgasbord time (thanks for setting this up ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures) and we're talking about bell ringers and daily warm ups today.

I'm going to honest here, I've attempted to create engaging daily warm ups for many years now...and I've failed at a bunch of them.  Although I had really good intentions, I just couldn't find a warm up that was the right fit for middle school students.  

Some of my warm-up fails were super boring (the kids wouldn't do them), or way too difficult (students needed a mini-lesson to even get started), or too easy (they were done in less than 30 seconds), or completely unrelated to what we were learning.

So, this past year I really focused on creating a set of warm ups for my students.  Here were my criteria...

The warm-ups needed to...

----- Instantly engage students so that I didn't have to spend the first five minutes of class begging my students to get working.
----- Include activities that they could complete all on their own without additional instruction from me.
----- Be simple enough so that kids could truly finish them in 5-ish minutes at the start of class, yet still challenge students to think.
----- Have a way to extend the leaning for fast finishers.
----- Tap into a variety of critical ELA skills.
----- Be EASY TO GRADE. 

And from this list, the THIS OR THAT Daily Warm-Ups were born.  Click the video below to see what I have to say about them :)!

And I'm not kidding when I tell you that I'm in love with them...and my students are too!  They meet each of my criteria.

INSTANTLY ENGAGING - Here's the cool part about the This or That Warm-Ups, they're all about choice.  That's right, students get to choose which portion of the warm up that they'd like to complete each day.  They can either do the "This" activity or the "That" activity.  It's built in differentiation and super motivating!

NO ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTION NEEDED - Along the top of each warm up I included essential information that they'll need to complete the warm up. That means that they can truly do the warm up without any additional instruction for me.  Love that!

FAST FINISHERS?  NO PROBLEM - Since there are two activities on each warm up, fast finishers can just complete the other version of the warm up.  How cool is that?  And fast finishers are rewarded for their effort with bonus points.  Easy!

SKILL VARIETY - Not only do the warm-ups have a variety of activities from matching to editing to fill-in-the-blanks, the warm-ups themselves tap into a variety of skills.  Within a pack of 20 warm ups kids will work on grammar, punctuation, mechanics, creative writing, and reading comprehension.  This helps them feel novel and engaging!

EASY TO GRADE - I've developed a simple system to grade students' warm-ups with grade sheets.  On the grade sheets students are required to write down what they learned while completing the warm up.  Then, once a week I review their work and grade it based on a check, check-minus, and check-plus system.  So simple!  Oh, and since I use the warm-ups in different ways throughout the year, I created 4 different grading options.  

Not only are the This or That Warm-Ups filled with choice for students, they're also filled with choices for teachers.  Of course there's the grading options.  But, teachers can even choose how they set up the This or That Warm Ups in their classroom.  You could have kids create folders to store their work or you could simply create warm up packets.  Oh, and some teachers are even using them in interactive notebooks.  How cool is that?

It's true, I'm nuts about the This or That Warm Ups, but my favorite part about them is that my students are independently learning and practicing critical skills as they settle into classroom each day...and that creates the opportunity to read aloud to them at the start of the class period.  It's such a calming way to start the class and sets the tone for learning.  

You can find two sets of the This or That Daily Warm Ups here and here.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

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