Do it Now in Science

Dedicating some time at the start of a science lesson for a ‘Do Now’ can be incredibly helpful for students and teachers.

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. It can also provide some valuable time for the teacher to take the register, follow up on missing homework or set up a demonstration. Do Nows can go wrong when they are too challenging or when students are unclear on what to do –  this creates unintended confusion which, for some students, will provide the reason to switch off.

Top Tips for a Do Now

  1. Keep it pacey – a maximum of 5 minutes
  2. Keep the task simple – it shouldn’t need lots of explanation. Modelling one example can help.
  3. Use it to consolidate learning from the previous lesson or units
  4. Don’t make it too hard. It’s more important that you engage students at this point and make students feel clever!
  5. Make the last question an open one to extend thinking and to prevent students from finishing
  6. Write the Do Now on the board if moving classrooms to give you time to log in
  7. Use the Do Now – peer assess or self assess it. Learning from the Do Now should flow into the next activity.

Do Now ideas

  1. Key questions assessing key knowledge e.g. write the equation for photosynthesis.
  2. 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
  3. 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. Make sure you then spend enough time showing students what the right answer is.
  4. 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.
  5. What was the question? There are answers or key words on the board and students must write the questions.
  6. Odd one out and why? Teacher shows 3 items – could be pictures. Pupils must find the odd one out and explain why.
  7. Memory. 10 facts on the board. Pupils must learn these. After 5 minutes remove the words and quiz the students.
  8. 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.
  9. Start of topic. Mind map – what do you know already?
  10. Highlight it! Give students some text and ask them to highlight a specific type of word e.g. fuels/living things. It’s a great way for you to ‘see’ their thinking and to identify errors/misconceptions.
  1. Planning lessons: the EPIBA approach
  2. Clearly defined lesson objectives
  3. The Do Now
  4. Activate prior knowledge
  5. Challenge your students
  6. Use a context
  7. Challenge all students appropriately 
  8. Use direct instruction to provide clear explanations
  9. Model abstract ideas in concrete ways
  10. Use questioning to probe understanding
  11. Check for understanding – give and get feedback
  12. Troubleshooting – why did it go wrong?