Bellringers and I are never getting back together… Like Ever.

Adobe Spark (16)

So earlier this year, I wrote a post about breaking up with my bellringer.  I was nervous about not using it.  It was everything that I had learned was “good pedagogy.”  It was on my teacher observation checklist!  It worked for me… somewhat.  But brain research really wasn’t on my side.  And it was BORING (mostly).  Occasionally, we would start with a interesting game etc, but many times, it was a handout or book activity… that we needed to go over.  So by the time we really started it was far into class.

I realized that I didn’t come back and discuss how it went when we started a Twitter discussion about it.  I ended up keeping a similar schedule from my original blog post.  We would do the special person interview (and later in the year weekend review.)  To keep it fresh, one of my favorite weekend review options was on this blog.  Other days, I would start with Free Voluntary Reading.  To keep some accountability, I would have students find two new words to them to share with a partner.  Or we would do some booksnaps.  I started my level 2s with five minutes of reading then I bumped it up to seven or eight minutes by the end of the year.  In addition, I would either do a song or a MovieTalk as well.  I would also play around with commercials during February and the music mania in March.  I also would mix in some PictureTalk as well.  Because we would typically assess once a week, this would summarize my week of “warm-ups”!

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take attendance or check homework.  I managed to fit that in later in the class.  I rarely forgot to take attendance.  (Although sometimes I would forget to check homework… but that is probably for the best!  I am changing up my homework this year anyway.  Don’t ask me what, but I won’t have a work book to make students complete.)

I was also worried that students wouldn’t know to “get started” or that there would be discipline problems with them getting started.  I found that they settled down just as much as they did before with a bellringer.  They knew that class was starting and they didn’t act any different than they would have with a bellringer.  I like the same flow of my class.  As I wrote in my previous blog, I think this helped me further back away from the textbook as I wasn’t relying upon a textbook activity for my bellringer.  I believe that it made my class more engaging overall.  I encourage you to try to move away from the bellringer this year!  Also- check out how Laura moved away from bellringers this year and how she started her class.

17 thoughts on “Bellringers and I are never getting back together… Like Ever.

  1. I need a bellringer for a few classes that get squirrely when they have nothing to do for even one minute. Other than that I don’t really use them since I imagine it makes sense to dive in.

    1. I think with some groups it may be necessary. It might have been easier with me because high schoolers may have an easier time adjusting to the classes than usual. It would be interesting to try with younger students.

  2. I use games that the kids have played before as bell ringers so in a sense they’re not typical bell ringers but rather solid activities that engaged kids from the start. I agree some bell ringers are boring but if it’s a game, they’ll join with more enthusiasm.

    1. Definitely! I think as long as your students are getting input at that time, it will be successful! Many times, teachers use that time to quiet students down, so they have a minute to take attendance. But with all of the primacy/recency research, it shows that really the opposite is true.

  3. I never used to do bell-ringers, but then I felt something was missing from class. Our school uses Google Classroom, which makes it easy to do something quick at the beginning of class. In Google Classroom, there is a “Create a question” button where I can post something quick for students to do. It might be a retelling of a story that we did the previous day, a reaction to a short video or reading selection, a communication activity among the students with structures that we practiced the preceding day, a timed writing, something creative, listening to a song and responding in some way to it or to a question about the song. As much as I can, I design the activity to flow into what we will be doing that day. I know what you mean by bell-ringers eating up class time, but if they are an important part of the lesson instead of an add-on, I do not see it as a waste of time. For me, the bell-ringer is something that students begin while I take care of everything else, which usually doesn’t take long. However, when there is something that comes up I find them very useful.

    1. Thanks so much for reaching out! I should have provided the link to Sara-Elizabeth’s post in my post about primacy and recency effect in the classroom. This is one of the biggest reasons that I switched. I wanted to really focus the beginning of the class on input. It sounds like some of the activities that you are doing are similar to what I have done with MovieTalks. I would encourage you to read more of what Sara-Elizabeth wrote if you are more interested in this topic.

  4. Hi Maris! You talked about being worried that students wouldn’t know to “get started,” which is one of my #1 concerns about starting without a bell-ringer (otherwise, I am ready to get rid of them, too!). Did you have any routine that you started every class with (E.g., going over date and weather), or did you just launch into the first activity for each day (e.g., telling students to get a book for FVR or beginning a MovieTalk)? Thanks!

    1. Hello! I didn’t have a weather routine, but I am thinking about starting that next year with level 1. I still think that I will wait until after my first activity to do that as well. I haven’t tried it yet! I will let you know how it goes though.

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