Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Bell Ringers and Algebra
Are you an algebra teacher in middle or high school? If so, then students might be coming into your classroom from homeroom, other classes, or their lunch period. This can make it really difficult to get started in a unified and efficient way. At the same time, algebra is a complicated field, and you have a lot of material to get through! You are probably looking for ways to minimize the difficulties of transition and maximize your time together.
Bell ringer activities are tasks that students can accomplish with minimal adult intervention. A good bell ringer will get students into the right frame of mind for your class and will also earn you a few minutes to take care of attendance and other transitional needs. The bell ringers in this lesson are designed for use in an algebra class.
Problem-Solving Bell Ringers
Here, you will find ideas for bell ringers that have to do with solving different problems.
- Project two different algebraic equations that are at a level well suited to your students' current abilities. Ask them to solve each problem, compare and contrast their answers with others at their table, and then jot down the strategies they used in order to solve the problem.
- Project an image of an algebraic problem and its solution, but make the solution incorrect in some way. Ask students to work with others at their table to identify the source of the inaccuracy and then solve the problem correctly. They should think about common mistakes and pitfalls in solving this sort of equation.
- Ask students to write their own story problems that are authentic and realistic but make use of a concept from algebra that you have been working on together. If they have time, they can swap problems with others at their table.
- Project an algebraic equation that has been solved appropriately and ask students to write a situation that might be relevant to this problem.
- Give students a series of linear equations and empty coordinate graphs. As they transition into class, have them graph the lines that each of the equations represents.
- Ask students to look over last night's homework and compare their answers or any questions that came up with others at their table. They should be ready to discuss any inconsistencies that arise.
Verbal Bell Ringers
These bell ringer activities ask students to make use of their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in ways that are relevant to algebra class.
- Project a list of key vocabulary words pertaining to algebra and ask students to write definitions of each word and practice using them in sentences.
- Play a podcast or audio recording of someone talking about why algebra has been important to them in their life and work. Ask students to listen to the recording and make notes of anything interesting that comes up.
- Ask students to write letters to next year's class explaining what algebra is, what makes it challenging or interesting, and why they do or do not believe it is important.
- Give your students an article to read about algebraic themes and their relevance to real life or work situations. Have them read and take notes about what they learned.
- Ask students to write a list of five to ten different questions they have about their homework or the topic you worked on during their last meeting.
Visual Bell Ringers
Finally, these bell ringers are good for getting your visual learners prepared to take on themes in algebra.
- Project an image of a line or a picture or pattern, and ask students to jot down ideas about the different ways algebra is relevant or can be used to think about the image you have projected.
- Ask students to draw pictures representing at least three different ways that algebra can help them understand patterns and relationships in the world around them.
- Have each student write down at least one question that came up for them during their last class or during homework, then sketch an image that goes along with that question and how they think it could be answered.
- Ask students to complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting algebra with another branch of mathematics or science, such as geometry or physics.
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