Erica has her Masters in Teaching Secondary English and taught in the classroom for five years before turning her attention to professional development.
Imagine yourself in the middle of an exciting lesson in which students are in the midst of engaging group discussions. You look up at the clock and recognize it's time to move on, but there is a lot of chatter happening around you. You want everyone's attention, so you ask for it once. No response. You ask a second time, but a little louder. No response. Finally, in frustration, you call out over the clatter, ''Quiet!'' The room suddenly settles into shocked silence. Your students feel alarmed, you feel guilty for shouting, and you know your voice is going to be a little hoarse later that evening. The good news is that there's a better way. Bells in the classroom can help us effectively grab the attention of our students, cue transitions, and even help them settle their minds.
Why are bells an effective way to grab attention? For one, they have a sustained sound that carries throughout the room. If students don't hear the initial ding, they may catch the sound as it reverberates. Also, when students are engaged in rich dialogue, abruptly ending the conversation can be jarring and leave them feeling unnerved. Giving them the time it takes for the sound of the bell to dissipate allows for students to finish a final thought and wind down into silence. Finally, as a general rule for teachers, the less talking we do, the better. Take yourself out of it, let the room respond to the bell, and save your voice!
Bells are not only great for attention-getting, but also letting students know when it's time to move on. I have seen teachers use a distinct set of tones to signal the beginning of an activity, time to switch groups, and time to clean up. The more systems a teacher creates in the classroom, the smoother things tend to run overall. Making bells a part of your system gives students the autonomy to follow structures without your direct instruction.
There are certain times of day when teacher expect the energy of their students to be running high. After recess and lunch periods, or before a test, can be hard for students to come in and recommit to focused attention. Bells can be a great tool to use at these times. One exercise you can try is to ring the bell and have students listen until the end of the sound. Students then raise their hand when they can't hear the sound anymore. In this way, you are issuing a challenge for students (which they love!) to pause and focus their minds. A variation on this is to have students listen for the bell and try to move their arms up over their heads so slowly that they only reach the top when the sound ends. These two exercises can help students refocus after time away from learning.
Make it a job
Being the bell-ringer can be a great classroom job for students, giving them a leadership role. Students can be put in charge of ringing the bell in all three instances-- attention grabbing, cuing transitions, and settling students. This not only helps that individual student feel engaged and important to the community, but it teaches the other students to respond to fellow classmates.
What kind of bell?
Noticing the soothing effect bells can have on classrooms, companies have started to make them specifically for that purpose. Zenergy chimes have become popular in recent years, have different tones to choose from, and even make some with three or four different tones in one. Vibratones have a beautiful deep resonate sound that can be great for settling the students. There's even a bell called No Yell Bell that might be best suited for what you'd like to use in your classroom. You may need to experiment before finding the one that works best for your classroom.
Whatever you decide, give your voice a break and consider using bells in the classroom. You can gently get the attention of students without alarming them. Transitions will become smoother as you employ a system of bells to indicate movement into the next activity. Also, bells can help students refocus when their energy is hectic. Best of all, bells will enable you to put students in charge of these tasks, increasing their ownership over the classroom.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Using Bells in the Classroom Quiz
Instructions: Choose an answer and click 'Next'. You will receive your score and answers at the end.
Why would you have students ring the bell?
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack