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Thanks to COVID, many of us are teaching online these days. One question we’ve been asked a lot lately is “How can I do a Warm Up activity online?” So, the “pros” here at TEFLPros have chosen some of our favorite in-person Warm Ups, and tweaked them to fit the online classroom. Many of the Warm Ups come from our Activity Book, included free as part of the TEFLPros course. Keep reading to learn about our favorite Warm Up activities that are online approved!
Good teachers know the importance of starting each class with a Warm Up. A very short activity to get your students thinking in English and having fun is a great way to set the mood for a successful class. Traditional Warm Ups usually involve movement and physical interactions between students, but, what if you’re teaching online? How are you supposed to do a Warm Up activity if students can’t stand in a circle, toss a ball, work in teams or mingle around?
The Warm Up is a great time to give your students a taste of what’s ahead. It can also be a good time for a quick review of previous concepts. Plus, since a Warm Up typically only lasts about 5-10 minutes, it makes a great filler activity when you find yourself with a few minutes to kill at the end of a lesson. Of course, you’ll want to tweak your Warm Up depending on the size of your online class and the age of your students.
Keep in mind, whether you work for an online company or work as a freelancer, your students want to know that you have the background and know how to teach English. To prove this, you need a TEFL certification from a reputable school like TEFLPros. Our certification is accepted by online companies and at brick-and-mortar schools across the globe.
And now, on with our favorite warm up activities that are online approved!
This is a great Warm Up for practicing newly taught vocabulary. It’s a twist on the game, Hot Seat. In our online version, the teacher writes a short list of vocabulary words for all students to see. Then, he or she gives clues – synonyms, photos, or the definition of one of the words. The first student to guess the word gets a point!
This is a simple low stress Warm Up that’s perfect for students at a lower level. Plus, there’s a really easy tweak to make this game online friendly. Normally, students stand in a circle and toss a ball. The teacher selects a topic and names one item from a chosen category. Example categories might be animals, countries or jobs. Then, the teacher tosses a ball to a student. He or she must say another item in the same category. The activity continues until the teacher changes the category.
Obviously, online students can’t stand in a circle and toss a ball. To tweak this activity for an online class, the teacher can give each student a number. When the teacher calls out a number, that student knows it’s their turn to chime in. This way, the game keeps its air of anticipation.
This is a fun Warm Up for reviewing verbs. Normally, the teacher would share a question, such as, “Do you like running or swimming best?” All those that chose running would run to one side of the room and all those that chose swimming would run to the other side of the room.
There are a few ways to make this activity work online: Students can pantomime their preferred choice, or hold up one finger if they prefer running and two fingers if they prefer swimming.
Similarly, the teacher can ask Y/N questions. For example, “Do you ___everyday?” Students who want to answer “Yes”can stand up or give the thumbs up sign, and those that want to answer “No” can remain seated or give the thumbs down sign.
Another great Warm Up is to pose a question to the whole class and then have them break out into groups to answer it. After students come back together, you can ask individuals to share what their group discussed. The question can be based on a theme, like shopping vocabulary, or on a grammar skill, such as speaking in the past tense.
To break students into groups, you can use the break out rooms function on platforms commonly used for teaching online. Here’s a video on how to manage break out rooms on Zoom (You won’t be able to hear your students.) and here’s one if you’re using Google Meet (You can join the break out rooms and listen in).
A tried and true Warm Up is to share a photo or video clip with your students. It’s a great way to peak their curiosity about the upcoming lesson and to get them talking! Students can describe what they see, make predictions or ask questions. You can jot down their predictions and revisit them later in the lesson.
Finally, a Warm Up activity can be used as a fast paced review. Students can use Individual Response Boards – a fancy way to describe those hand-held dry erase marker boards. Here’s how it works: The teacher asks a question and each student quickly writes down their answer. They keep their answer to themselves. This part is very important! When the teacher says “1-2-3 Flip!” everyone turns their board to the screen to reveal their answer at the same time. This way, everyone gets a chance to participate. Plus, the teacher can judge, at a glance, who understands a concept and who doesn’t. Don’t have whiteboards? Not a problem. A simple sheet of paper will do just fine 😉
Well, we hope you got some great ideas on how to tweak Warm Up activities for online classes!
If you have a favorite online Warm Up of your own, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
As always, Happy Teaching!