Warm up activities

Four Ideas for Checking In

Particularly important during a pandemic, but this is a good way to start any class.

Click on the CC icon in the bottom right corner of the video to turn on closed captions.  

Four Ideas for Checking In
Educator prep: Minimal
Student prep: Minimal
Video conferencing, Polling tool
Duration: > 5 mins

Activity purpose

To check how your students are feeling on the day. This is particularly important during a pandemic, but is a good way to start any class, in person or online, and can be as fast or as slow as you are comfortable.

Useful for

Beginning of every synchronous meeting.


Apart from the text chat option, each of the others needs one slide to be prepared in advance, but you can reuse the same slide several times throughout the semester.


The video describes four different ways to check in:

  1. Text chat: Ask students “How are you feeling today” and they type in the chat, and you read some of their contributions aloud and react to them.
  2. Visual: Show students a page/slide with several pictures in tile mode, and ask students to select which one represents how they’re feeling right now; students can share in the main room via annotation or chat or speaking, or in pairs or trios in breakout rooms.
  3. Annotation: Show a slide with a triangle or one or more spectrum/a with different possible feelings, and students choose via annotation how they are feeling today.
  4. Word cloud: Use a polling tool (example in the video is slido), ask students to choose one word or short phrase to describe how they’re feeling today/now. The tool creates a word cloud, enlarging words that are repeated several times.

Example prompts for each quadrant:

  • You can create content-based prompts for each quadrant. E.g. after a class reading, students can reflect on a key thing they learned, a big question they have, a word or quote they enjoyed, and how the reading made them feel.
  • List 7 things you’ve seen, heard, felt/did, and compose a small drawing.
  • What have you noticed & observed, so what seems important about that data, now what’s needed next.
  • In times of grief/trauma: Yes it is true that [Affirmation]… It is hard because [Despair]… I will always remember/I will never forget [Reconnection]… Now that I have shared my loss, it may be possible to [Active Hope]…


It takes anything from 1-2 minutes for students to contribute, then may take 4-5 more minutes of full-class discussion or just the teacher responding/reacting to students’ responses, or you can send students to breakout rooms in pairs or trios to discuss for 4-5 mins.

Adaptations and examples

Here are some adaptations and alternative tools: 

  • Different polling tools that have word cloud question types you can use:
    • Slido (which also has Google slides integration, used in the video)
    • PollEverywhere
    • Mentimeter
    • Choose the tool that best fits your needs. Free versions of these sometimes have limits as to the number of questions you can ask or number of students that can be included in the responses. 

Technical requirements

No specific requirements, but a polling tool is useful. 

Useful resources

How to use annotations on Zoom.

Find royalty-free images, or use Google images and filter by license.

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For you to download and adapt.

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