Middle School Classroom Routines to Begin Class

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Beginning of Class Routines

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What do the beginning of class routines look like in your middle school classes?

Do your students enter the classroom and know exactly what to do? Or, in this age of virtual learning, do they know exactly what to do when they log on….or even before they log on?

For a few of my first years of teaching, I didn’t have specific classroom routines. Then I read The First Days of School and everything changed…I started incorporating specific tasks and routines for students to do/follow when they arrived in class.

For several of my middle school teaching years, my homeroom students were my first period class, which made getting ‘into’ class really easy – the routine for those homeroom students was to begin specific tasks as soon as they had completed their homeroom routines.


Beginning of Class Routines for ELA

What did my students actually do as part of the routine at the beginning of class?

When I taught ELA, my students worked on their ‘partner daily language‘ which was my spin on the ‘Daily Oral Language’ we used when I first started teaching.
This routine involved:

  1. Students independently completed their own part of the task. 
  2. When class officially started, students found a partner and completed the partner part of the task.
  3. A ‘when you’re finished’ task on the board for students who finished a little earlier than the others.

​While students completed this routine, I’d take care of any miscellaneous items and then circulate, answer questions, and listen to the students’ discussion.

When all students were finished, we’d review any daily language questions or I’d throw in a little mini-lesson, and we’d move on to that day’s lesson.

Beginning of Class Routines for Math

In math classes, the beginning of class routine started with what I called M.G. (for Mental Gymnastics), which was our daily math. I used a variety of daily math books over the years, but then created my own daily math, to spiral and review the concepts I knew my 6th graders consistently struggled with over the years.

The beginning of class routine looked like this:
1) Students took out the daily math immediately and worked on that day’s problems (students kept the daily math in their binders so nothing needed to be passed out or retrieved at the start of class).

  • Often, I’d assign the MG for homework and students would discuss at the beginning of class….this actually ended up being my best option for fitting the spiraling math review into my 40-min classes every day, because it cut down on the time it took for students to complete the problems (especially the time for those who took a little longer to get done).
  • While students worked on or discussed the daily math problems, my routine was to circulate, check for homework completion, and answer any questions that came up during the math discussion.

2) When each group finished discussing, they’d move on to check their math homework (I typically put the answers on the board the day before and then covered them up until class started).
3) I’d answer any MG or homework questions.

Then, on to the lesson!
All in all, the spiral review problems/discussion and homework checking took about 7-10 minutes (yes, sometimes I’d take a little longer answering questions that came up:-) 

Other Ideas for Beginning of Class Routines

While using the daily language and daily math worked well for me, maybe you’d like some other routines to begin class.

Here are a few alternatives:
1) Entrance tickets:
These are a quick way to assess where students are with your topic for the day. I think these would be easier to incorporate if you have a class period longer than 40 minutes.
These could be

  • printed sheets
  • a post-it to put on an ‘entrance ticket board (I’ll talk about these in my End of Class Routines post)’
  • a Google Form

2) Problem Solving:
Have a problem ready to go so students can begin as soon as they enter the room. It could be projected, could be in Google Forms, or could be a printed sheet.
When I taught 5th grade and had longer math periods, I often began class with a problem to solve, so we could work on problem solving strategies. There was a structure to this, so students knew what was expected (the routine!) when they entered the classroom and saw a problem posted.

3) Homework Review/Discussion
As a routine, this would look like: students enter the room, automatically take out their homework, and check answers with a partner or the classmates that sit in their group (or near them).
I used this if our class time was cut shorter for some reason.

What are your favorite classroom routines?

Ellie

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Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!

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