Warming Up – Study Skills Activity

May 4, 2010 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

In this week’s study skills blog I am focusing on how to “warm up” for math class. I’m not going to say that math and athletics are identical, but just as it is helpful to warm up before exercising or participating in a sport, it is also a great idea to warm up for a math class.

Classroom Activity

Put your students together in pairs or groups of 4 and ask them “What are the best ways to get ready for math class? In other words, how should you spend the last 5-10 minutes getting ready for class?”

I give my students up to 5 minutes to compile their list. I then ask groups to give me an idea from their list, which I write on the board. As I write an idea on the board, I offer my 2 cents worth on the idea – “This is a good idea because it refreshes your memory about questions from yesterday.” Once we have exhausted all of their ideas, my students have plenty of options to choose from to warm up for class.

How My Students Warm Up

Here’s a list of some things my students do.

  • Look over their notes from the previous class session. This is a good reminder of what we covered yesterday, and should lead into today’s lecture. They pay particular attention to the questions they wrote in the margin, their end of page summaries, and the examples I worked out.
  • Look over last night’s homework. They look over any errors they made and any questions they have. At the beginning of class they can then ask me their questions, or better yet, they can ask a classmate the question before class starts.
  • Look through the section in the textbook that we will be covering that day. A brief look through the textbook’s examples gives them an idea about what type of problems we will be covering, and what techniques we will be using. They can start to form their questions early.
  • Look at the homework exercises for today’s section. Again, it’s a decent way to get an idea about the types of problems that will be covered today. I prefer that they look at the examples in the textbook, but it’s still not a bad idea.
  • Rework a couple of problems from the previous night’s homework. This is a great way to get the brain engaged while reviewing previous material.
  • Cycle through the note cards they have been preparing in this chapter. Note cards are great because they are portable, and it doesn’t take long to look through them.
  • Select a “top 5” from the previous section. Students identify 5 problems that they should know how to do in the previous section. Essentially, this is similar to creating a practice quiz.
  • Write down the top 3 things to remember from yesterday’s section.
  • Prepare their note pages for Cornell notes. (OK, this is more busy work than warming up, but at least they are doing something.)

If you have any “warm up” activities, I’d like to encourage you to share by leaving a comment, or reaching me through the contact page at my web site – georgewoodbury.com.


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Tuesday I post an article related to Math Study Skills on my blog. If there’s a particular study skill you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website – http://georgewoodbury.com.


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