The Ultimate Bell Ringer Post!

by - May 27, 2019

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Let's talk about Bell Ringers, folks!

I have to admit that I haven't always been great with consistency when it comes to doing Bell Ringers in my classroom. There was a really big push at my school a few years back for all classrooms to have bell ringers, or start-ups, at the beginning of each class. During this time I made several attempts, and hated all of them.

But, I did learn some things from these epic failures!

First of all, the entire concept of bell ringers is based on the idea of creating routines and expectations in your classroom. If students are expected to complete something as soon as they walk in the door, they are less likely to run around, making it more difficult to reign in the class to start for the day. In theory, I really liked this... but in practice, I found it to be more difficult. Bell Ringers are often random tasks that students are asked to do based on whatever you're covering in class or whatever power point lessons someone created to cover grammar or mechanics. In this way, the only real routine is that they were required to do something at the beginning of class. I felt that this created more chaos than it resolved, with students often unclear on what they were supposed to do.

What if the process didn't have to be like that? What if it were consistent? What if it were interesting? Would students be more inclined to do the bell ringer if they were actually engaged in it? What if it were valuable outside of your daily lessons?



So I experimented over the last few school years, and I have created two different Bell Ringer methodologies that are routine and interesting. I will outline them both below, and you will have the opportunity to purchase the materials for whichever methodology you jive with! Both of these have been successful in my classroom, and I definitely recommend them. I personally have a favorite of the two, but we will get to that later :)


1. Weekly Bell Ringer PowerPoint and Response Sheet



This one is exactly as it sounds. You use a PowerPoint template each week that includes the activity for the day on each slide. There are 5 activities, and they never change. You would have to edit this document each week to change the content, but the task would never change.





The tasks are:

Mondays - analyze a famous quote

Tuesdays - edit a paragraph for errors. I use Every Day Edits from Education World's website for these, just copy and paste into the page.

Wednesdays - Photo Analysis - any photo will do. Have students describe the photo using sensory information, and then make inferences about what is happening in the photo based on that information.

Thursdays - Weekly Skill Check. This is where you would ask them to recall something from the lessons that week or simply explain what something is or means, or what they have learned.

Friday - Weekly Reflection (this one was my students' favorite) - they will write 1 thing they learned in class that week, 2 kind things they did for others, and 3 things they can do next week to have an even better week. Reflective writing is good practice!

Each day has a little day-of-the-week meme and and editable date box. Each week, I spent about 15 minutes editing this file for the week.

Students use a Response sheet to keep track of their responses, and because the tasks don't change, each week students just need a new copy of the response sheet. They are responsible for keeping it in their notebooks all week to be turned in on Fridays.

I score their response sheet 10 points per day for a total of 50 points. If a student is absent, I have them write ABSENT in the space for that day, and I do not take credit from them for that day. Bell ringers should be positive experiences based on solid routines, not lessons in responsibility.

I give students 10 minutes from the time the bell rings to complete this activity. When the 10 minute timer is up, we go over the activity together for about 5 minutes. This gives students the opportunity to share their thoughts and responses, and it gives that extra few minutes for slower kids to catch up :)

Overall, using this Bell Ringer was a positive experience for my students and after a few weeks, the routine was set and they always know what to do. I tried to find interesting quotes and photos to incite discussion and thought, and I often found photos of historical significance so that students were learning something new and interesting as well. A favorite photo was of the Hindenburg explosion - I had to forcefully end the discussion about that one!

If this Bell Ringer routine jives with your teaching sensibilities, then you can purchase the whole pack with the PowerPoint already ready to go and the Bell Ringer Response sheet PDF ready to be printed. This is $9.99 and is available via PayPal through the link below.

If you have any troubles with the PayPal link, the file download, or anything else - please immediately email me at kailysimpson@gmail.com and I will resolve the issue immediately.

(If you have previously purchased Cornell Notes from me and had trouble with the redirect, I discovered the problem and fixed it. It was related to a third party website that I was using for the redirect page, and I have since cut ties with that company due to the ongoing issues.)






2. Creative Writing Bell Ringer Book

I am one who subscribes to the idea that we do not do enough Creative Writing in Language Arts classrooms anymore. The push for text-based writing has made it nearly impossible to fit a lot of creativity into the curriculum. Two years ago, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and create a Creative Writing Bell Ringer book.

This book includes one short creative writing prompt for each day of the school year and a space for students to write.

These prompts are really all over the place and include things like "write an ode to a cheeseburger" (a submission from a former student), "write 10 similes to describe today's weather," and "what would you be willing to fight and die for?" There are prompts that challenge their thinking on social issues, like "what does freedom of speech mean to you? Does it also mean freedom from consequence?" There are also famous quotes peppered throughout the year for students to consider and analyze.


The book is laid-out so that Monday - Wednesday are one one page, and Thursday and Friday are on another page. There is also a "weekly reflection" box where students can write about what they learned that week to keep track of their own learning.






There are 40 total weeks of writing prompts in this book.

This is my favorite bell ringer activity because students already have their book, they know what they are supposed to do, and having 10-15 minutes of quite thinking and creative writing is a fantastic way to start a class period.

When students are writing, I wait about 5 minutes and then I go around with a stamp and stamp the box of students who are actively engaged in their writing. At the end of the week, I go around and for each stamp, students get 10 points for a total of 50 points for the week.

I have a binding machine that I bought on Amazon, so the last few years I have created books to house their bell ringer books, however, you can just as easily use a 3-prong folder to bind this into a book.

Next year, I will be combining this bell ringer book with my Cornell Notes and some data sheets and binding them all together into one ultimate Language Arts Notebook. I will be writing about this on the blog soon! :)


Another feature that this book has is monthly calendar pages for each month of the school year. This includes a mini calendar where students can write the days, keep track of school closures or important information. It also includes a "doodle box" where students can doodle their thoughts and ideas, and a "reflection" box where students can write about different things - the one to the left says "list the things that you are grateful for." My student often go back to these pages if they finish their daily box early.

This is also a good place to keep track of important information for your class like exams, project due dates, etc.

I have a lot of doodlers, so I encourage them to use this page for their creative doodles instead of their weekly writing boxes.

So far, this has been my most productive and most engaging bell ringer method, and I will continue to use this in my classroom. The cool thing is that I can just re-print the same book year after year because the prompts are always going to be relevant. Creating this took forever, but it was a great investment of my time because I get a lot of use out of it.

If this is a methodology that you are interested in trying in your own classroom, I am making this file available for you. It is not in color, so it will be easy to reproduce (I don't know about your school, but mine does not have color copying available!). You can use it year after year. You can easily bind these in a 3-prong folder, and if you use the plastic folders, they will last all year. This would be a good first-week activity for students - have them punch and bring their bell-ringer books!

This file is $15.00. It is 91 pages (which is only about 46 pages if you copy it front-and-back) and spans 40 school weeks. You can use the link below to purchase this file via PayPal.

If you have any troubles with the PayPal link, the file download, or anything else - please immediately email me at kailysimpson@gmail.com and I will resolve the issue immediately.

(If you have previously purchased Cornell Notes from me and had trouble with the redirect, I discovered the problem and fixed it. It was related to a third party website that I was using for the redirect page, and I have since cut ties with that company due to the ongoing issues.)


Is there a Bell Ringer methodology that you have struck gold with in your classroom? Share in the comments!

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