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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Exam Reviews, Student Talk, and Anchor Charts

I dedicate the last 3 weeks or so to a culminating project so I’ve tried to find a (good) way to fold in review during this time without losing too much momentum on the project. I really liked my most recent attempt in which I used a series of Do Now’s and Homework’s to tie together the review topics. I’ll explain the process by referring to the example below, which addressed Supplementary Angles and Isosceles Triangles.

I structured each Do Now to contain 4 components including individual think time, sharing in pairs and a whole class discussion. (This did take longer than my normal allotment for Do Now’s, but it was worth it to me.)

First, the students would individually recall facts from the Previous Topic (e.g. Supplementary Angles), which we had reviewed in both the Do Now and Homework yesterday. Once they wrote these facts they could crosscheck it with the previous Do Now if they were unsure.

Second, they would move on to Today’s Topic (e.g. Isosceles Triangles). The task was always to write down 3 statements that they know or think they know about the topic. The second part of the statement allowed them the freedom to write something down even if they weren’t 100% sure. I would challenge them to do this just by memory, but they could refer to their notebook if necessary. During this time, I would circulate and snoop like crazy to get a feel of how far they could get before opening up their notebooks. This helped me to gauge what they still remembered about the topic and if I would need to work in a mini-lesson.

Third, they would share their statements to their partner and add any new ideas that surfaced during this conversation.

Fourth, I would bring the class back together to share out. During this discussion, I recorded their ideas on chart paper.

Lastly, practice problems to accompany Today’s Topic were for homework that night. The homework problems were similar to examples in their notebook from earlier in the year. On the Do Now was a box to record the page number, which hopefully spurred them to look to their notebook as they practiced that night.

The next day we would repeat the process, starting with the previous topic (e.g. Isosceles Triangles) for step one, then add in a new topic. I continued this process for 10 days then stapled these together so they had all their work in one place.

There were a couple things I really loved about this review set up. Through the discussion, we created a student-generated anchor chart for every topic on the exam. I kept these anchor charts posted in the classroom until the day before the exam. As we worked through the topics and we taped poster after poster to the walls, the students began to realize how much they learned that year. =) It also helped them determine the topics they needed to study the most. I loved that every day’s lesson had a few key elements worked in already – individual recall, sharing with a partner and a collaborative discussion to review for the exam.ReviewPoster_Isosceles Triangles1I normally would have focused only on big ideas and wouldn’t have added the examples to an anchor chart. Yet the discussion led to a request for an example, so this may not be but it did the trick.

*How do you review at the end of the year? If anyone else ends the year with a project, how do you work in a review?