Learning Starts Before the Bell
Students begin walking into your room. What is the first thing they do? The answer might be a bellringer.
Bellringers go by many other names, such as openers, journals, or daily work. They are small assignments that students work on as they enter the classroom. This strategy is very effective for many reasons.
According to Harry Wong (author of The First Days of School), use of a bellringer is an extremely effective practice. It teaches students that class is a place of learning, and that learning occurs as soon as the students enter the classroom. However, bellringers offer many more benefits than this.
Bellringers can prevent instructional time from being wasted if you, the teacher, are unable to be in class immediately upon starting. They offer flexibility among content, giving you an opportunity to pretest what is coming up or review what was learned yesterday. Additionally, bellringers can be built into the procedure so students can be learning while other teacher duties are being taken care of (such as attendance). Most excitingly, they can offer practice when needed, challenges when necessary, and can even be used to ‘spice things up’.
Below are a few examples of how bellringers can be used in your classroom.
- Journaling – Students respond to daily questions in a journal, building a year-long log of learning
- Stickiness – Students anchor their learning by using strategies from Teaching that Sticks
- Review – Students review core concepts from previous lessons
- Pretest – Students pretest upcoming lessons, which allows for future differentiation
- Daily Practice – Students have the opportunity to practice complex or important skills
- Brain Breaks – Physical movement to start class has proven benefits to student learning
- Set the Hook – Creates an opportunity to set the hook for the upcoming lesson in a mysterious, exciting, energetic, or engaging way
Bellringers are an effective instructional practice that offer students the opportunity to learn immediately upon entering the classroom, and can be used as flexible tool for instruction, review, or any other number of strategies within your pedagogy.