Why a warm-up activity?
Warm up activities are short, and often fun, activities designed to encourage students, and prepare them to learn by stimulating their minds (and/or their bodies).
Any kind of engagement with your students will help to build a sense of community and belonging, which is good for well-being.
By including a warm-up activity at the beginning of an online lesson you can set the tone of the lesson and the expectation for your students that they will be actively engaged throughout the lesson. When teachers skip a warm-up activity they can often find that, if they ask for their first student contributions – e.g. via the Chat panel – 20 minutes into the lesson, students are more reluctant to contribute.
Example warm-up tasks
If it’s the first session of a new module and group, you could:
- Ask participants to use the Chat panel to introduce themselves e.g. by asking them to talk about: a) their professional interests, b) goals for the course, c) personal interests etc.
- Use Breakout Rooms and allocate students in pairs to separate rooms. Set the Breakout Room timer to 5 minutes total. Before sending students into their Breakout Rooms give them their instructions, telling them they have 5 minutes in total to both introduce themselves to each other. When the 5 minutes is over, ask each student to introduce the person they were in the Breakout room with to the whole group.
In any teaching session, low stakes initial questions or polls are a great warm-up up task. For example:
- It’s a good idea to build the use of chat in right from the start by asking for a simple hello in the chat panel. Use of emojis and GIFs can make this more fun and easier for students to engage with e.g. ask students to say “hello” in the chat panel and use emojis or GIFs to say how their day is going so far.
- Knowledge check: if you are tackling a new topic this week – e.g. the Theory of Relativity – you could create a Poll to check how many students have already heard of the topic? Or you could ask students to post in the Chat panel 2-3 things they already know about the topic.
- Knowledge check: in relation to the previous lesson you had with these students, ask students to use the Chat panel to “List 2-3 things you remember or learnt or felt was most important in last week’s lesson”.
- Knowledge check: alternatively in relation to the previous lesson, some teachers regularly run a fun ‘Quiz’ at the beginning of each lesson which connects backwards to build on the previous lesson’s work e.g. you can create multiple question Quizzes using MS Forms and providing a link to your Quiz or questionnaire in the Chat panel. Don’t forget: you can also choose to make Quizzes anonymous. (Alternatively, you could pre-prepare several Polls using MS Forms to ask each question one at a time: a Poll is a single question quiz.)
Why engage your students?
- Being active rather than passive is more motivating for students.
- Interacting with other students and with teachers promotes a sense of community and belonging which is good for well-being.
- Low risk and anonymous contributions make participation possible for students who are less confident.