Bell work, bell ringers, warm-ups, first 5’s – whatever you call it, this is one of the most effective classroom procedures that teachers use to get their students focused and ready for learning.
Having an efficient bell work routine can make a huge difference in the way you start each class period and how well you keep your students engaged throughout the year. Here are some tips to make the most of your bell work routine.
1. Get Students Focused and Ready to Learn
Bell work is a simple but effective way to get students focused and ready to learn. They are short exercises given at the beginning of class that require minimal teacher assistance and help students begin working independently.
Getting students to focus is especially important for secondary classrooms where they are constantly switching from class to class. For example, they may be coming from an hour-long lecture, a hands-on science lab, lunch, P.E., or a pep rally!
Ideally, bellwork should be simple and predictable. This way, students know what to work on before you open the door and they aren’t surprised when the bell rings.
2. Assess Prior Knowledge
Activating students’ prior knowledge in an edi lesson provides a connection between what they already know and the new learning that will take place. This is a great way to honor their background knowledge, as well as to verify that they have an understanding of what you are teaching today.
Depending on the type of bell work activity you choose, this can be a quick review of previous learning or an introduction to something new. It’s important to find a bell work activity that is meaningful and engages the whole class.
Pre-assessments of prior knowledge can help you to focus your teaching and adapt your instruction for the best possible results. You can use this information to identify if students need additional practice on a particular topic, or if they need more support for learning certain skills.
3. Pre-Assess Learning Targets
Bell work is a great way to engage students in a review or preview of the day’s lesson. It can be as simple as a quiz on the Pythagorean Theorem, or it can be more complex, like a digital fill-in map where students label all the countries in the world.
When teachers create learning targets, they distill the essential knowledge, skills, and reasoning for each lesson. This will help students focus their attention and maximize their potential.
It’s important that the learning targets are clearly written in student-friendly language and include empowering, “I can” statements. This helps to foster a culture of reflection, goal setting, self-assessment, and progress monitoring.
4. Keep Students Engaged
Bell work is a great way to keep students engaged. These simple, short assignments can assess skills and knowledge from a previous lesson and get them thinking about what is coming next in the classroom.
For example, a question like, “What does a patient who is in shock look like?” can quickly review a topic and engage students in critical thinking. Or, a quick review of medical terminology can help solidify words in their minds and keep them motivated to learn new ones.
Another effective way to get students thinking is through metacognitive strategies, such as prediction. This helps sustain curiosity, which is key for self-regulated learners.
5. Save Time
Bell work is one of the most efficient classroom management tools you can use. It can help students start the day calmer and more on task, while also giving you time to take attendance, pass back work, and have a quick one-on-one chat with a student.
Teachers can save even more time by integrating bellwork assignments into the lesson itself. TeacherMade’s Slide View allows you to seamlessly transition from the bellwork assignment to your lesson without wasting precious class time.
When students know bell work is directly related to the lesson they are about to learn, they will be more likely to take it seriously. This helps you to keep them focused and engaged in the activity, which can result in higher scores on tests or final exams.