Do Now Plan and Template

I’ve been slowly thinking through how to approach Do Now’s this year. In the past I’ve used this time to work on number sense skills and algebra review as these are areas of weakness for my students and it helps us prepare for the state test in the spring. I still think this is important, but I also want to build in elements that are interesting and that will get students talking about math. So my objectives are to build number sense, observe patterns and discover math in the world around them, spiral review skills, and promote curiosity. With all this in mind, I also need to have a routine to keep me rotating through these objectives and to provide a method to the madness.

My plan:

  • Math Maintenance on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. This is a spiral review strategy from Kathryn at ‘i is a number’. I can tweak what I’ve used in the past to this more organized and deliberate method. (Thanks Kathryn!)
  • We have a shortened schedule every Wednesday, which not only results in less instruction time, but also more rambunctious students. Therefore I need a Do Now that is engaging and thought-provoking. I’m going to project a photograph or video of math in the real world. I have a lot of these in relation to architecture from being a Fund for Teachers Fellow a few years back, so that will be a good place to start. I’ll use the ‘I Notice, I Wonder’ and Headline strategies, which encourage students to look closely, make observations, and promote curiosity.
  • On Friday, I will incorporate Estimation 180 to build number sense skills and get students talking.

Monday through Thursday will be completed on this handout. On Friday, they will estimate in their notebook so they can track their progress week to week.  I included an explanation of how I grade Do Now’s on the bottom of the handout as a reminder.

  • Attendance – you are in your seat and started when the bell rings (1 pt)
  • Effort – you work hard until the Do Now buzzer rings. (1 pt)
  • Excused absence: complete missing problems for homework (1.5 pts.)

The Do Now is worth 2 points per day. There is occasional push-back about the attendance point, which they discover is non-negotiable. I don’t mind being tough on this because it gets students to my class on time. If they’re late there is no argument, just my best ‘I’m disappointed’ look and a point deduction.

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Making Thinking Visible – Final Thoughts

About a month ago I was searching the library database for a book recommended by a fellow blogger. Our library didn’t have it, but Making Thinking Visible came up in the list. The phrase ‘Making Thinking Visible’ was thrown around a lot this past year at my school, and I never really knew what people were talking about. I do incorporate some think-pair-shares and writing with my students so assumed that I was probably more or less doing it. When I saw this title, I thought I could read the first chapter or two to be in the know. Much to my surprise, I’ve spent a month reading, re-reading, taking notes, and blogging about this book. I’ve really enjoyed this time to more deeply consider the acts of thinking and understanding and how to make these acts visible in my classroom. Below are a few quotes that really struck me.

  • Work and activity are not synonymous with learning
  • When classrooms are about activity or work, teachers tend to focus on what they want the students to do in order to complete the assignments. These physical steps and actions can be identified, but the thinking component is missing. When this happens the learning is likely to be missing as well.
  • …curiosity and questioning propel learning
  • …with the learner at the center of the educational enterprise, rather than at the end, our role as teachers shifts from the delivery of information to fostering students’ engagement with ideas. Instead of covering the curriculum and judging our success by how much content we get through, we must learn to identify the key concepts with which we want our students to engage, struggle, questions, explore, and ultimately build understanding. When there is something important and worthwhile to think about and a reason to think deeply, our students experience the kind of learning that has a lasting impact and powerful influence not only in the short term but also in the long haul. They not only learn; they learn how to learn
  • In using facilitative questions, the teacher’s goal is to try and understand students’ thinking, to get inside their heads and make their thinking visible. Again, it is switching the paradigm of teaching from trying to transmit what is in our heads to our students and toward trying to get what is in students’ heads into our own so that we can provide responsive instruction that will advance learning
  • How can we make the invisible visible? Questioning; Modeling an Interest in Ideas; Constructing Understanding; Facilitating and Clarifying Thinking; Listening; Documenting
  • Culture of Thinking: places where a group’s collective as well as individual thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members.
  • Thinking routines are procedures that provide framework for focusing attention on specific thinking moves that help build understanding.