Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Blog Post: Math Warmups

How do you start your math class?

This past year, I took on the approach of math workshop. I'll save the whole routine of math workshop for another post, but I do want to focus on the beginning of the math lesson. The first 5 minutes of math are crucial. The math warmup is important to engage learners, review previous content, get them ready for the upcoming lesson, and get students thinking about what is to come.

My district utilizes Everyday Math, which incorporates a warmup, followed by a math message that involves critical thinking. Everyday Math's warmup is nice in that it differentiates to various skill levels. However, simply solving the problems on a whiteboard or in a journal can get old fast. Therefore, I found a few different ways where students can get those same warmup problems, but in a more interactive way.

One easy way to incorporate math warmup problems is to do what I call a "math-ercise." It is essentially solving math facts while doing exercises. I like it because it adds the "brain break" element and also gets students moving while practicing math.

There are few different ways that I integrated the "math-ercise" into our math workshop.  Sometimes, I would call out an exercise, followed by a math fact. They had to do the exercise the number of times that the answer would be. For example, I would call "Jumping Jacks, 3 x 3!" Students would then respond by doing 9 jumping jacks. Students liked verbalizing the answer and completing the exercise while counting aloud.

Another way that I included the "math-ercise" was through a Power Point presentation.  Facts would appear on the screen, and students had to call out the answers. In between every 3 or 4 slides, an exercise would appear! Students would call out the answers to the facts appearing on the screen, but then quickly spring into the requested action.

Warmup exercises are very easy to do with math facts. No matter the grade level, students need to know their facts! It is a great way to practice them in just a short amount of time, and in a more engaging way than the typical speed tests.

Other than the "math-ercise," I created a warmup called "Two Truths, One Lie: Math Edition."  Many of us are familiar with the icebreaker, but I made it math related. 3 problems appear on a Power Point slide. It is then the students' job to identify which statements are true, and which one is the lie. For those mathematicians who finish quickly, I have them correct the lie and make it true. A 3rd grade version of "Two Truths, One Lie: Math Edition" can be found on my Teachers Pay Teachers page.

For the next warmup, you'll probably think of a familiar tune. "One of these things is not like the other" is something we remember from watching Sesame Street, but can also work great in math! I put 4 different mathematical pictures or equations on the slide. Then, students have to figure out which one is not like the others, and explain why. For extra fun, you can play the song in the background on repeat.

Those are just a few suggestions for starting math, whether you do a workshop style, small groups, or whole class instruction.  Have any clever ways to engage students for math warmups? Add them to the comments section!