Why You Should Use Bell Ringers in Your Classroom

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Hi friends! How are you maximizing the first minutes of class with your students? If you ask 100 teachers about the most effective use of bell ringer time, you’ll get a lot of opinions. But I know you’re like me and want to squeeze out every single bit of that precious time for instruction.

Bell Ringers Maximize Use of Time

This is exactly why I use standards-based bell ringers! 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 right away while I take care of housekeeping chores like taking attendance and checking in with students. You'll want to practice your expectations and directions a few times together, so they know exactly what to do every time. I developed and use two different resources. The first is Take Ten Bell Ringers for Language Arts. The second is Picture Prompts for Writing.

Let’s Look at Bell Ringers

I love this 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. So, I'm covered for both in-person and distance learning. Students analyze the included 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 that are included with the resource. These are The Ultimate Word List for Writers and English Cheat Sheet. Students become self-reliant in using these tools for reference and help in completing the work.

What are the Benefits of Take Ten Bell Ringers?

  • 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 question format. This is so much more effective than waiting until a few months before the “test” and then bombarding your them with test practice worksheets which you both hate. Heart or like that statement!

  • 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. Take Ten Bell Ringers has you covered there. With this resource you can get grammar, usage, mechanics, vocabulary and writing grades in one easy place.

What about Picture Prompts for Writing?

Picture Prompts for Writing is a year-long writing program I assign my students for weekly writing practice. It’s a fun way for them to write using interesting and thought-provoking photographs. Each week my students practice critical reading and writing skills including inference, conclusion, observation of detail, description, truism, and dominant impression.

What are the Benefits of Picture Prompts Bell Ringer?

  • CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT – For the same reasons mentioned above, you’ll thank yourself for establishing a bell ringer routine with your students. Not only do you need to maximize time, but you want your classroom to run smoothly, too. Most administrators look for a well-run classroom where students are on task, focused, and working purposefully.

  • FLUENCY – When students write daily, they become comfortable with the writing process and are less likely to experience writer’s block. The photographs I chose for this resource capture the attention of even my most reluctant writers. No more blank stares or complaints about not knowing what to write!

  • CRITICAL THINKING – Students think critically when they infer and draw conclusions about the displayed photograph. It is so easy to increase rigor in my lessons this way.

Another use of Picture Prompts is to include it as part of a learning center or station using technology such as tablets or Chromebooks.

Choose the best bell ringer for your students or use both resources as an integrated part of your weekly lesson plans. Find out more about the bell ringers I use here. When you do, you can be sure you’re hitting your standards every day, engaging students, and holding them accountable for learning.

Thanks for reading this post. Did you connect with some of my ideas or have questions or thoughts about it? Go ahead and comment, like, and share with your colleagues. I hope my post helps you select the best bell ringer for you and your students.

Happy teaching!

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