Lemov, D. (2010). Teach like a champion: 49 techniques that put students on the path to college. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
Chapter Five: Creating a Strong Classroom Culture
The Five Principles of Classroom Culture & Technique 28 Entry Routine and 29 Do Now
I have been teaching for the past eight years and with that I have reflected upon the successful and unsuccessful techniques, lesson plans, and texts that I have attempted to implement. One of the few consistencies that I have noted is that my entry routine has always been the same: Do Nows or Bell Work. I have come to understand that they accomplish several goals. The first is that they create and maintain the discipline for how I would like to begin class. I expect students to come into the classroom quietly, address a Do Now that has been posted on the board that directly relates to the content of the class period, and reflectively address the topic of the Do Now. The second objective that a Entry Routine and Do Now accomplish is that it brings the students’ focus to the subject at hand, activating their previous exposures to the content, and prepares them to begin adding to that knowledge base. Finally, it allows for me to take attendance, address students who have been absent, and mentally prepare for the upcoming class activities. Because of these reasons, and more, I have heavily relied on the importance of Entry Routines and Do Nows.
As identified and defined by Lemov, an Entry Routine, “is about making a habit out of what’s efficient, productive, and scholarly after the greeting and as students take their seats and class begins” (p. 151). Other parts of my Entry Routine include a seating chart for all of my classes, not just for those who seem to be more talkative or off task throughout the class period, one location for where textbooks are kept for those days in which we utilize them, a basket that has been designated for each class period’s homework for those days in which it must be turned in, and of course the Do Now. I have found that maintaining high standards and expectations for how students enter the classroom has cut down on management issues.
Do Nows, or as I call them in my classroom Bell Work Assignments, are “a short activity that you have written on the board or is waiting at their desks before they enter” (p. 152). I am privileged enough to have a Promethean Board in my classroom and students know to expect a written Bell Work assignment posted there daily. The topics of the Do Nows range from using vocabulary in new ways, reviewing the previous night’s homework assignment and/or readings, anticipatory questions that make students think from a character’s point of view, or any other topic that directly relates to our class’ theme for the day. There are four critical criterial that Lemov identifies for an effective Do Now assignment:
1. Students should be able to complete the Do Now without the aid of the teacher. This is important because it should not be a time in which new material is presented, but drives directly from previous knowledge.
2. The activity should take between three and five minutes to complete. I typically do not require more than one paragraph for written responses from my Bell Work assignments.
3. There should be a written product from the Do Now assignment. In my class, I provide a handout that has a designated space for each day of the week. This is turned in on Fridays. There is always a written element, even if the majority of the content is addressed in a classroom discussion.
4. The activity should preview the day’s lesson or review a recent one. Again, this is not the time or place for new content.