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Bell-Ringer Activities for Social Studies

Instructor: Sharon Linde
The need to use every drop of class time for educational purposes has made teachers creative. Ever hear of a bell-ringer? In this case, it isn't a person who rings bells. Read on to find out how teachers use bell-ringers to increase student learning.

What Are Bell-Ringer Activities?

The pressure is on teachers to move through content at a pretty steady pace. Material needs to be covered and using each minute between the beginning and end bells helps reach this goal. Bell-ringers are exercises students work on while the teacher takes attendance and prepares to begin the lesson. Typically short and independent activities, bell-ringers have become common for grade school and high school students in all content areas, with some schools mandating use. What's with all the love for bell-ringers? Let's look more deeply at the purpose behind them.

Why Use Bell Ringers?

All teachers have been in a situation like this one: 30 students file into a social studies classroom after changing time. They're talking, goofing around and letting off some steam between classes. Some take their seats, but others mill around, visiting friends and checking out the latest scores in sports. The bell rings, Ms. Smith closes the door and instructs the students to calm down. But wait - she isn't quite ready to teach just yet. Administration requires her to take attendance, collect homework and answer emails before beginning instruction. How does Ms. Smith engage the students in a meaningful way that relates to her lesson and keep them in their seats and working productively?

Ms. Smith knows how important those first few minutes are. She needs to set the tone for learning and keep the pace moving. If the class gets off to a rocky start, she'll struggle to regain control. She needs an interesting task students can do independently without teacher instruction - something predictable and routine. Luckily, she's a bell-ringer pro and has things covered. Whew!

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