How are you maximizing the first minutes of class with your students? If you ask 100 teachers about the most effective bell ringers, you’ll get a lot of opinions. And what you use really depends on the length of your instructional period. But I know you’re like me and want to squeeze out every single second of that precious time while providing experiences that promote student growth. The only bell ringers you'll need this year are ones that provide daily skills practice for reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary.
Making Bell Ringers Work for Your Classroom
If you're an ELA teacher, you know exactly what I mean when I say time is a hot commodity. The beginning of class is the perfect opportunity for my students to practice critical skills in a quick and effective way. I use bell ringers to get kiddos working immediately, freeing me up to take care of housekeeping chores like taking attendance and checking in with students. I always teach my expectations at the beginning of the year, so everyone knows exactly what to do each time. I use two different bell ringer resources depending on my teaching assignment. If I have a longer block, I use Bell Ringers for Middle School Language Arts. If I'm teaching a 45-minute class period, I use Digital Daily ELA Skills Practice.
Bell Ringers for Middle School ELA
I love this resource for so many reasons. First, it's a no-prep, print-and-use AND digital resource that engages my students and challenges them to think critically and creatively. Students analyze mentor texts when answering questions in both multiple choice and short answer responses. They are also exposed to a variety of sentence structures and prompted to model those structures in their own writing. In the process, they strengthen reading comprehension, improve writing, master grammar, usage, and mechanics, and develop vocabulary using Greek and Latin roots. Another benefit of this bell ringer is that students gain experience using reading and writing tools included with the resource. These are The Ultimate Word List for Writers and English Cheat Sheet. Students become self-reliant in using tools for reference and help in completing the work.
Digital Daily ELA Skills Practice
For classrooms with 1-1 devices or teachers who will be teaching both virtually and in person, my go-to is the Digital Daily ELA Skills Practice sets. I want my students to have daily practice in grammar, reading, writing, and vocabulary, so this just makes sense. I’m able to choose which strand I want and share with the class through my LMS.
What if you’ve already bought a bell ringer you absolutely love? I’ve used the Digital Daily ELA Skills resource for small groups, stations, daily assignments, homework, and exit tickets. The activities are delivered in Google Forms with some self-grading options, too! I’m all for anything that saves me time and has multiple uses in my classroom.
Bell Ringers Work
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT - You set the expectations for bell work and develop a routine that students can follow. There is no question about what they should be doing during bell ringer time. My students have a folder where they keep this weekly work. When everyone knows what is expected and has what they need, it reduces off- task behavior and will save your sanity!
TIME - It takes about 7-12 minutes and can be easily modified to accommodate your needs. Want to turn the work into an entire lesson, you can do that. Need to cut it short this time? Not a problem. The questions are written using higher level stems to ensure your students become familiar and comfortable with standardized test question format. This is so much more effective than waiting until a few months before the “test” and then bombarding them with test practice worksheets which you both hate.
GRADING - How many times have you had to scramble to come up with a required number of grades per week or grading period? What about getting those writing samples for student portfolios? You don't have time to think about that. With these resources you can easily take grammar, usage, mechanics, vocabulary and writing grades.
Choose the bell ringer that works best for your students or use both resources as an integrated part of your weekly lesson plans. I love these so much I'm sharing a FREE week of both, so you can try them out in your classroom. Grab a free week of Bell Ringers for Middle School ELA (message me for the print version) or download the Daily ELA Skills Practice set. Or take both!
When you incorporate skills-targeted bell ringers, you can be sure you’re hitting the learning standards every day, engaging students, and holding them accountable.
Did you connect with some of my ideas or have questions or thoughts about bell ringers? How many teacher friends do you know who would love to try out the free resources? Go ahead and share away!