Reading Bell Ringers

Instructor: Rebecca Harkema

Becca teaches special education and is completing her doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Reading Bell Ringers can help teachers manage times of transition within a classroom by providing students a structured and engaging activity. In this lesson, you will learn multiple examples of Reading Bell Ringers that you can use in your classroom.

Introduction to Bell Ringer Activities

Does this classroom scene sound familiar to you?

As the bell rings to signal the start of the school day, students shuffle into the classroom handing in homework, asking questions, turning in field trip money, and unpacking backpacks. However, a few students seem to complete these tasks quickly and head to their seats. Now there are some students that are unpacking backpacks, some students that are sitting in their desks waiting for instruction, and some students wandering around the room because they don't know what to do!

As a classroom teacher, this probably sounds like a typical start to the school day or class period. Although these transition times will always be busy and full of activity, teachers can help manage these times by using Bell Ringer activities.

Definition and Rationale for Bell Ringer Activities

Bell Ringer activities are short tasks that teachers prepare for students as they begin the school day or class period. These activities provide structure for students that are ready to begin their work while other students continue to transition into the classroom.

These tasks become part of the classroom routine, and students know to begin work on the Bell Ringer once they are seated at their desks. They help facilitate a smooth start to the class by focusing students to the work at hand.

Now that we know what Bell Ringer activities are and why they are useful in the classroom, let's review a few helpful guidelines for creating Bell Ringer activities.

Reading Bell Ringer Guidelines

There are many ways that you can incorporate reading activities into your Bell Ringer routine. It is important that Bell Ringers engage students, so make sure to use a variety in your classroom. Students may become bored or disinterested if they are asked to complete the same Bell Ringer each day.

Teachers should also create Bell Ringer Activities that are relatively simple so students can complete them independently, without much need for teacher assistance.

With these guidelines in mind, here are some great ideas to help you create your list of classroom Bell Ringers that support students in the area of reading.

Reading Bell Ringer Activities

Vocabulary Word of the Day: Post a new vocabulary word and have students find the meaning of the new word. For an extra challenge, students can write a synonym or an antonym, use the word in a sentence, and draw a picture of the word.

Draw a Scene from the Current Reading Story: If you are reading a fiction story or novel, ask students to draw a scene from the previous day's lesson or their favorite part of the story thus far.

Create Comprehension Questions: Students can write their own comprehension or test questions about the current reading selection the class is reading. This works well for both fiction and non-fiction texts.

Reading Journal Prompt: For a fiction text, students can write a journal entry from the perspective of one of the characters in your current reading story.

Quick-Write: If your class is working on a non-fiction text, students can write about their previous experiences with the content. For example, if the students are reading about the life cycle of a butterfly, they can write about any memories or experiences they have about butterflies.

Start a KWL Chart: If you are reading a non-fiction text, students can start a KWL chart. This is a three-column chart labeled with the letters K (Know), W (Want to Know) and L (Learned). Students can fill in the Know and Want portions of this chart.

Students can begin a KWL Chart as a Bell Ringer activity.

Complete an Anticipation Guide: An anticipation guide is a series of statements about a text that students have not read before. The statements ask students to make predictions based on their prior knowledge.

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