Bell work is a quick activity that teachers assign at the start of every class period. It helps students get into learning mode and focus on the tasks ahead of them.
The bell work activity can be anything from a simple review to a thought-provoking question. There are many reasons for incorporating bell work into your classroom routine.
Getting Students Ready to Learn
Bell work is a great way to focus students as they get settled into the classroom. It’s also an important element of a classroom management plan because it provides students with routine and structure.
Teachers can use bell work to review previous material or introduce new material depending on the questions assigned. These brief assignments are designed to be completed as students settle in and can help them focus on their learning quickly.
Skills Review Practice Exercises: Have students complete a practice sheet for the skills they need to learn that day, using dry erase markers. You can also have students complete a practice quiz to reinforce skills they already know.
Logic Problems: Challenge students to solve puzzles that require them to think. These quick thinking puzzles develop reading comprehension, vocabulary, and math fact fluency as well as writing, spatial, and visual perceptual skills.
Social-Emotional Learning Journals: Have students answer writing prompts that help them develop skills like self-regulation.
Activating Prior Knowledge
Activating prior knowledge in the classroom is a strategy that helps students understand what they are reading and connect it to their existing learning. This strategy is particularly effective for ELL students who may have a limited level of background knowledge.
Bell work can be used to activate prior knowledge, surface it, or familiarize students with lesson vocabulary (Echevarria, Vogt, and Short, 2013). A good idea is to incorporate questions that relate the lesson to something they already know or have been doing for a long time.
You can also include questions that review yesterday’s learning or skills they are familiar with. This way they are doing an activity that is doable and independent, not a test.
When you use metacognition strategies like curiosity, prediction, or mind benders to activate prior knowledge, you can extend learning. Often, this makes students remember more because it sustains their curiosity, which increases the probability of learning the content.
Using bell work to engage students can be a powerful way to start any class. It gives students an opportunity to get settled and focus before the lesson officially starts, while giving you time to answer questions or take attendance.
In addition, well-crafted bell work assignments help students cultivate effective study habits and self-motivation. This can lead to better academic performance and a more conducive learning environment for the entire class.
To be effective, bell work activities must be engaging and relevant to the day’s lesson or overall course content. In addition, they should be brief and require little guidance from the teacher.
Keeping Students Focused
There is a lot of teaching to do, and bell work can be a great way to make sure students are focused before your official lesson begins. If you take the time to design a focusing activity that is purposeful and meaningful, it will help students focus in on their learning goals during the first few minutes of class.
For example, a health science class could start off by having students identify the symptoms of certain diseases. This activity catches their attention and helps them prepare for the rest of your day’s lessons.
Another way to keep students focused during bell work is by allowing them to practice skills that they’re struggling with. Put practice sheets in page protectors and use dry erase markers.
Another strategy is to ask students questions that require them to think about a topic from a different perspective. This may sound silly, but it is an excellent way to get students thinking and engage with the material in your health science class.