4. Entering my classroom, what do students do now?

Set up a crystal clear routine and step-by-step instructions on the board that tell them unmistakably: ‘This is what you do now.’

The eager arrive before lunch has finished; the cool saunter in with ridiculous swagger; the obnoxious drag their feet all the way to your door; the complacent roll in late.

Your classroom will fill in dribs and drabs; you need to get them settled and ready to learn as quickly as possible.

At its heart, the Do Now is simply what they should do, now they are in the room.  Think of the Do Now as a settler, and then have another starter designed as a hook to your lesson.

I’ve experimented with many variants over the year.  Here are a few of them:

Simple Questions

  • Simple maths questions based on the last lesson’s learning
  • Simple maths questions that will lead into today’s learning

Bigger Questions

  • ‘If this is the answer, what is the question’ – can be as simple as a big 42 on the board
  • ‘Where have you seen maths in real life’ – e.g. percentages
  • Draw a triangle on the board – what questions might I ask about this triangle?
  • What would the world be like without numbers?

They’ll all have different effects, and you’ll have to experiment with your own groups to see how they respond.  I can’t tell you what will settle your classes best, but I can tell you this: having had to repeatedly circulate a room frantically, persuading all but the hardest working to open their books and start answering questions, the first time I saw a whole group (of Year 10s) walk in and just get on with it was when I wrote three, crystal clear instructions on the board, started an 8 minute countdown timer, welcomed most at the door, then calmly kicked back in my chair, taking care of some admin:

  1. Rule off after yesterday’s work
  2. Write today’s date
  3. Attempt these questions in your book
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