In Teach Like A Champion, Doug Lemov refers to something called a ‘Do Now’.
I have also seen this called a DNA (Do Now Activity) or DNA on entry – they are the same thing.
So how does a Do Now or a DNA on entry work?
This is not a rocket science. They are basically warm-ups or walk-in procedures that set the tone and get everyone settled and down to business. They are used right at the start of a lesson to instantly get students in the correct mindset for learning and for getting a lesson off to a flying start.
DNAs are commonly brief, usually not longer than 5 or 10 minutes and they are completed without teacher assistance. They can be stand-alone activities but are often used as primers to introduce ideas connected to the rest of the lesson or perhaps focus on a common misconception.
A DNA works really well when embedded as a consistent routine. You could use them weekly but I find they work better on a daily basis.
You might decide on the following for a DNA:
- an open-ended question, challenge or puzzle
- a game
- a quiz
- a journal activity
- a drawing
Any materials needed should be ready and waiting for the students as soon as they walk into the classroom. Instructions should be clear and posted for all to see.
Although activities might involve some discussion, try to keep the classroom quiet for students to perform the task.
There are lots of ways to do a DNA but Doug Lemov says that an effective ‘Do Now’ needs to stick to four critical criteria to ensure that it remains focused, efficient, and effective:
- be in the same place every day so taking it and getting started is the habit of all your students.
- students should be able to complete the activity without any direction from the teacher.
- the activity should take three to five minutes to complete and should require putting a pencil to paper, that is, there should be a written product from it.
- the activity should generally 1) preview the day’s lesson or 2) review a recent lesson
The Teaching Channel shows a Do Now activity here.