What is a bellringer?
A bellringer is an activity or small assignment that students complete when they first enter a classroom. They can be writing assignments, quick formative assessments, or partnered activities.
Why should middle school teachers use bellringers?
- Bellringers gives students an opportunity to transition from one task (or class) to another and mentally prepare.
- Bellringers benefits students by giving them time to get into an appropriate mindset for the class.
- Students who participate in bellringers are more engaged in the class.
- Teachers can collect data on student engagement and retention by using bellringers.
- Bellringers can help manage behaviors during a transition.
- A 2 minute bellringer gives the teacher time to take care of housekeeping without wasting class time.
Examples of Bellringers for middle school science
- In middle school science, a bellringer can be a “Turn and Talk” in which students discuss an idea or concept.
- Another common bellringer in middle school science is a quick formative assessment – I often use self-grading Google forms quizzes with 3-4 questions on yesterday’s topics as a quick way to see how students are managing the content.
- To support the common core standards, I also frequently use a writing task as a bellringer. Sometimes that writing task is related to the topic we’re studying and sometimes it’s random – “Describe the weather this weekend as if you were a meteorologist,” or “My favorite lab from sixth grade was…”
- 4 corners – Have students start conversations with a prompt on the white board like “Go to corner #1 if you think GMOs are safe to eat and go to corner #2 if you think they are unsafe.”
- Play a game of Wordle.
- Engage with a phenomenon. This is a great way to start with a 5E lesson plan.
- Review activities – A quick game of Boom cards or I have Who Has.
- Scaffold review – Practice an old skill like measurement or graphing.
- SEL check ns – How are you doing today? Pick an emoji.
The “Today in Science” resource that I created last year was a big hit for bellringers in my school this year. Every day, students received information regarding a scientific event that occurred on that day in history. There was an image of the event and a writing prompt to go along with it. Parents emailed me often that students were sharing what they learned at home and sparking dinner conversation about the space program or historical bridge building.
Try out 6 free writing prompts for April here. Reply below with a comment letting me know how your students responded!