My first thoughts are that maybe if you can keep them moving at the beginning of the class, get a little blood pumping without tiring them out, you may see more engagement rather than them sitting at the desk and 'going to sleep'. You could design a quiz whereby the students need to answer the questions by moving around the room. The quiz could be an informal formative assessment based around the learning outcomes from the previous session. On a separate note, I find that frequent short breaks help to lift concentration when students (or myself) are feeling tired.
Forget warm-up activities. Try loud music. Something completely unrelated to what is expected of them for the time they are with you. A different song each week... from a musical, pop, opera, they will eventually arrive early and try to guess your choice... Music is a bonding thing too, students of a 'certain age' will appreciate the reminders.
I am not being flippant, what would you rather hear when you arrive at a class within the scenario you describe, 'Now, turn to page...' OR The Undertones singing Teenage Kicks? Which would make you smile, relaxed and focused?
Might be an idea to ask the students what they would find useful?
Some might have some really good warm up activities up their sleeves that they already know work well for them. Getting them to create their own warm up activities might be a fun task also, getting their focus firmly on whats going on in the room and getting them to interact with one another whilst working on something beneficial for you AND them. This way it is entirely inclusive.
Hope this helps :) Emma
Brilliant idea, Emma. :))
Have you considered using "math tricks"
These activities will captivate attention and create an active learning environment.
Check them out :