Getting middle school students focused on the lesson you are about to teach can sometimes be a difficult venture. Engaging your students in a quick, 5-minute warm-up activity can help to break the ice, get them focused and making teaching your lesson that much easier.

The Five W's

Ask your students the famous "W' questions: who, what, where, when and why. These questions should be centered on the lesson you are about to teach and will help get your students in the learning groove. For example, if you are teaching a lesson on the weather, ask what weather is and why we experience different forms of weather. Reward the students who give the correct answers by giving them extra points on a quiz or extra time at recess.

Knowledge Quiz

Provide your students with a quick knowledge quiz to assess what they already know about a particular lesson. It does not have to be tricky or even count for a grade, but it will give your students a heads-up about what will be discussed in the future. This quick quiz activity will help your students get focused on the lesson and will help you assess where you need to spend more time during your lesson and teaching.


Have your students keep a journal that they can write in each morning prior to the start of the school day. This activity will center your students' minds and energy, allowing them to begin focusing on the academic rather than the entertaining. Write a question or statement on the board each morning and have the students write several sentences about it. Some examples of statements or questions: "What did you have for breakfast and why?"; "Who is your favorite scientist?"; or "If you could be any animal, what would you pick and why?" Collect and review the journals at the end of each day.

Memory Games

Give each student a sheet of blank paper. Place seven or eight items in a box and pull them out one by one. Place the items back in the box and give your students 5 minutes to remember what they saw in detail. The more details a student can provide, the higher his score. At the end of 5 minutes, collect the students' papers and review them. This game will help your students improve their short-term memory skills and will give you an idea of how well they are paying attention to detail.