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Engaging Middle School ELA Warm Up Ideas

Use these middle school ELA warm up ideas to help students get into the school zone when they enter your classroom.

Middle school ELA warm up routines are very important for ELA classroom management.

The best way to start your day is with a middle school ELA daily warm ups routine. What do you want your students to do as soon as they walk into your classroom?

Walk into the hallway of any middle school and you will see the definition of chaos –  students rushing, lockers opening and closing, and  too many people in one space.  Warms up are the best way to get students to focus and get into the school zone after they have just been in such a chaotic environment. 

 Middle School ELA Warm Up Benefits

  • They engage students’ brains.  
  • They get students working right away – often without direction from you.  
  • They focus energy and effort toward what you want it to focus on instead of spillover from the hallway.  
  • They also can give you a snapshot of where your students are academically – a quick peek on progress on newly acquired skills or a look at the knowledge base of individual students.  

With such positive benefits to using warm-ups in your classroom, let’s talk about a few warm-ups that you can easily incorporate into your routines.

Middle School ELA Warm Up Ideas

Entrance Tickets

One of the simplest warm-up techniques is the use of the entrance ticket. This generally takes the form of a couple quick questions either posted at the front of the room or on slips of paper students pick up upon entering.  These questions can be on any topic that is appropriate for the day’s lesson. 

  • Sometimes these questions are a review from the previous day’s lessons. This gets students thinking on the track where you left off the day before as well as can be used as an assessment tool to see what students have retained and where you might need to review or reteach.
  • Sometimes these questions are designed to assess what knowledge or skills your students are coming to you with. This helps you know what background you need to provide to your students before you teach something new.
  • Sometimes these questions are designed to get your students thinking about a new idea or topic.  This way students are primed for a new lesson, topic, or way of thinking as you begin something they haven’t done before.


Another great middle school ELA warm up technique that has the added benefit of utilizing technology (always a great draw for students) is the use of podcasts. To utilize this warm-up technique, first find a serialized podcast where each podcast is only a few minutes long.  When students come in, they access the podcast link, listen, and then respond in whatever format you have directed.  

Using podcasts this way not only develops focus and gets students thinking about a chosen topic, but it also helps familiarize students with another form of media – as podcasts are becoming increasingly common in our society. 

Here are some great podcast suggestions:

  1. KidNuz – This 5-minute daily news podcast is geared towards kids and produces 5 new episodes per week. 
  2. Six Minutes – This 205-episode podcast incorporates adventure and mystery as students try to figure out what really happened to Holiday after she was rescued from the ocean. I have created this Six Minutes Unit to align with the podcast that contains 3 comprehension questions per episode and a journal entry prompt as well as final summative task options. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.  
  3. Cost of Living – This Canadian economics podcast has lots of great short segments which would be of interest to middle school students like this one about the TikTok Creator Fund (Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.). Click the full episode you are interested in and read the different linked segments. Each full-length episode is too long for a warm-up activity. I selected 12 different podcast segments and created an activity for each one. Check out my Podcast Listening Comprehension Bundle. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.


A third great warm-up technique is journaling.  Journaling is a great way to get students to practice writing – getting pencil on paper can be a real challenge for some students! It also lends itself very well to customizing for the needs of the day as questions can be seasonal, unit-focused, serious, or just fun.  

Lastly, journaling can be a great way to make connections with your students – giving them a chance to share about themselves and you a chance to get to know a different side of them. Here are some ideas on how to get started with journaling in your classroom – 7 Tips For Implementing Journal Writing In Your English Language Arts Classroom

Middle School Reading Journal

I love having students write in their reading journals once a week. It helps students be accountable for their independent reading. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD

Whatever technique you put into practice, using warm-ups gives students a task as soon as they enter your room.  This promotes focus, classroom organization, and discipline, and it gives you a chance to see where students stand in regard to skills and knowledge.  

Use one of the middle school ELA warm-up methods listed above or one of the many, many others out there (or a combination of them) to make your classroom a more productive place!

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