I wrote about this once before. Go back and read that if you want. Or don't. I'm about to summarize here anyway. :)
Yesterday the math PLC at our school did a "Keep. Drop. Create" activity. Among other things, "questions at the beginning of class" ended up in the drop pile. This is something I have felt strongly about for a while, so I am very happy that our whole department is in agreement.
I am probably preaching to the choir here, but if you give practice assignments on a regular basis and you're using the first ten or fifteen minutes of class to answer questions about yesterday's assignment, you should consider using that time for something else. Here's why:
Low student engagement. During question time, most of our students fit into one of three categories:
1. Students who didn't do much (or any) of the practice. They are now sitting there writing down the problems while you work them out. They're not thinking. They're transcribing.
2. Students who did most of the practice. When they got to a tough problem, they gave up because "I'll just ask that one in class". They learn to wait for help rather than persevering.
3. Students who did all of the practice before coming to class. They are now bored to tears while they watch your performance of math problems they already know how to do. Not learning.
(There may be a fourth category of students who legitimately have a question and are now eagerly anticipating your answer. But there are maybe two students in that category. Also, I would suggest that doing the problem for them while they watch is not the best kind of help.)
They're ready to learn. If there is a portion of the class period that students are most ready to do something, it is at the beginning. Don't lose them here.
Opportunity cost. Instructional time is precious. Let's use those ten minutes for something else. Something that engages all students. We are working on a list.
In the mean time, we have decided to have little slips of scrap paper cut up and ready to go. At any moment we can do a quick formative assessment by posting a problem, collecting the slips, sorting them into piles, and identifying where students are having trouble.
What will you do with your extra ten minutes?
Or, an even better question, what other "math class traditions" need to go on the drop pile?