After leaving the hubbub and buzz of a middle school hallway during passing period, I love walking into classrooms where there are clearly defined routines and there’s a peaceful calm that settles over the class from the moment the bell rings.
In Anne Frost’s history class at Longfellow, that soothing calmness is so inviting. Anne has a daily warm up routine which integrates a tech tool, Desmos, with the current topic she’s teaching. When students first enter class, they have exactly 2 minutes to get out the materials they need, take out homework and write down any new assignments. This is done in silence and is followed by an equally quiet trip across the room to pick up their Chromebook.
Each morning, students independently do a “card sort” in Desmos, focused on vocabulary and big themes from the previous day’s class. When I visited her class last week they were studying the American Revolution and their card sort included the following questions. For this card sort, students dragged the vocabulary to fill in the blanks for each question.
While this type of vocabulary practice could certainly be done on paper, there are some advantages of using a simple technology tool, such as Desmos for students’ responses.
- Several students remarked to me that doing this on the computer was a lot faster and more fun for them than doing it on paper.
- Students excitedly told me that they love using Desmos for their warm ups because it’s so easy to change mistakes if they realize they have matched cards inaccurately.
- Desmos automatically grades card sorts! Most 7th & 8th grade teachers have well over 100 students. In Desmos, all responses from each class period can be seen on a single screen with student names in red who have errors and in green who don’t. Teachers can see who needs help and give feedback immediately.
- All of Ms. Frost’s warm ups are reusable for another class period or for next year, already organized for her within Desmos.
What was most impressive to watch was HOW MUCH PRODUCTIVE WORK both on and off computers students did during the 10 minute warm up routine. In just 10 minutes, students independently got and signed onto their Chromebooks, completed the Desmos card sort on the American Revolution, opened their Google Classroom to find their notes from a previous day’s class, requested a paper quiz on whatever reading passage they had most recently completed, took that open-notes quiz, using the Google Doc note-taking template which they had previously completed in Google Classroom, and then began a new reading passage.
A peaceful, well defined warm-up routine is such a powerful way to start class, and Desmos and Google Classroom are two tools which made Ms. Frost’s routine so effective.
You can see her Desmos card sort in action below.