I love a good Do Now (sometimes referred to as starters) and so do students. The purpose of the Do Now is to quickly engage students in learning and provide an opportunity for all students to be successful at the start of the lesson. For us as science teachers they are particularly important as they provide an opportunity to activate prior knowledge and consolidate understanding.
Do Nows can go wrong when they are too challenging or when students are unclear on what to do; this creates confusion too early on in the lesson, and for some students will provide the reason to switch off.
- Keep it pacey – a maximum of 5 minutes
- Keep the task simple – it shouldn’t need lots of explanation. Modelling one example can help.
- Use it to consolidate learning from the previous lesson or units
- Don’t make it too hard. It’s more important that we engage at this point and make students feel clever!
- Make the last question an open one to extend thinking
- Write the Do Now on the board if moving classrooms to give you time to log in
- Use the Do Now – peer assess or self assess it. Learning from the Do Now should flow into the next activity.
Do Now ideas:
- Key questions assessing key knowledge e.g. write the equation for photosynthesis.
- Key word spread: lots of key words on the board and students have to write a paragraph using as many key words as possible. Click here for an example
- What’s wrong and why? There is an incorrect diagram on the board that students must re-draw and label to make it correct e.g. incorrect electric circuit.
- True or False? Lots of statements on the board, some are right and some are wrong. Students find the wrong statements and re-write them correctly.
- What was the question? There are answers or key words on the board and students must write the questions.
- Odd one out and why? Teacher gives 3 items – could be pictures. Pupils must find the odd one out and explain why.
- Memory. 10 facts on the board. Pupils must learn these. After 5 mins remove the words and quiz the students.
- What would happen next? Show students an image and then ask them to describe what would happen next and why e.g. football being taken deep under the sea by a diver.
- Start of topic. Mind map – what do you know already?
- Highlight it! Give students some text and ask them to highlight a specific type of word e.g. fuels/living things. It’s great AFL as you can ‘see their thinking’.
- Planning lessons: the EPIBA approach
- Clearly defined lesson objectives
- The Do Now
- Activate prior knowledge
- Challenge your students
- Use a context
- Challenge all students appropriately
- Use direct instruction to provide clear explanations
- Model abstract ideas in concrete ways
- Use questioning to probe understanding
- Check for understanding – give and get feedback
- Troubleshooting – why did it go wrong?