How I Start Every Middle School Class Period
This single classroom procedure has made a HUGE difference in my experience teaching middle school. My first year teaching I didn't do this and I knew that something needed to change.
I decided to put into a place a daily bellringer for every one of my classes. I am a Family Consumer Sciences teacher so I teacher 4 different classes!
You can call it whatever you want to call it but I call it a bell ringer because my students are expected to be doing it as soon as the bell rings to start class.
Here's why I LOVE having this routine in place👇
Students already know exactly what is expected of them when class starts. They don't have to wait for me to give instruction on what they should be doing.
It allows for class to start in a calm, organized way instead of in a chaotic way.
It allow me to have time to talk to any students one on one who may have a question or need to let me know something.
It reminds me to take roll!! That's right--I no longer struggle to remember to take roll because this is now part of the routine. My students are all busy doing their bell ringer so it gives me a chance to take roll first thing when class starts.
It gives me an opportunity to quiz students on what we learned last time to see if they can recall OR it gives me an opportunity to get them thinking about the topic we're going to be covering in class that day. I do both depending on the class and sometimes depending on the day!
So you may be wondering...
WHAT exactly do you do for your bell ringers??
I simplified mine to expect students to write 2 complete sentences each day. That's it. That's what they get points for is having 2 full, complete sentences. I usually provide one or two questions for them to answer and they just have to respond to at least one of the questions in 2 complete sentences.
How often do you have students turn in their bell ringers??
When I first started doing bell ringers I had my students turn them in EVERY DAY and it was awful. I hated keeping up on the grading. So I quickly changed to a system where now students have a bell ringer sheet that has 10 days-- 5 boxes on the front and 5 on the back. So we don't turn them in until we have completed all 10 days. Since we're on a block schedule this is about every 4 weeks which is MUCH more doable.
Do students complete their bell ringer on paper or digitally??
I have considered having my students turn in their bell ringer digitally instead of on paper but a few things have held me back. First off, we didn't go one to one with chromebooks til this year so I didn't always have access to chrome books every class. But even now that we do, chromebooks take a while to get up and loading and can be really slow. It also means students could be doing something else on their chromebook or get easily distracted... (that's never happened in your class, right?)
I'll be honest I kind of like that they are still having a moment to write with pencil and paper since they do so much digitally these days. There's no excuses for not being able to do their bell ringer when its with a pencil and paper--I always have extra pencils and bell ringer papers!
The only time I have done my class bell ringer digital was the year I had my Child Development class take a quick quiz on Socrative each day to start class. I would give them the first 5 minutes and then end it. They got credit just for participating in it, not based on their score. It was more just for me to check their understanding and see if I needed to reteach something. The quiz was about 5-10 questions about whatever we learned about last class. I liked this because it wasn't RIGHT after learning about it so it really did test if they actually learned it or not.
I really did love getting this immediate feedback (Socrative allows you to go through each question right after closing and show the percent that got it correct). But we did run into issues of Chromebooks not loading, the internet not working and usually doing it on their phone was faster but not every students has a phone or they couldn't always get good enough service. So I just found that we spent way longer on it than I wanted to. I may go back to doing it this way again in the future at some point.
But as of now, I give them a knowledge check quiz on Canvas (our LMS) that they have to complete after every class period before the next class period. And for their bell ringer they answer questions about the topic related to the day's lesson.
How do you give them their bell ringer prompt??
I have a Google slides presentation for each class' bell ringers and a slide for each day. It includes the bell ringer prompt as well as other info like class reminders and the agenda for the day. The nice thing about this is all I have to do after the first semester creating the slides is change the date for future semesters and edit minor details!
I have the slide up when students walk into my room so they know to instantly look at the board to know what we're doing that day, important announcements, and what their bell ringer is. I'm able to "freeze" my projector on the slide so that I can even continue using my computer if needed. For me, this work super well and I hope that sharing my process will help you too!
What resources do you have available for Bell Ringers??
⭐ If you would like to get access to the bell ringer questions I ask for all four of my classes (Child Development, FCS Exploration A and B, and Career Exploration) it's available in my TPT store HERE!
⭐ You can purchase both my prompts and slide templates in a Bundle HERE and as a BONUS you get my simple bell ringer worksheet!
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