Using Bell Ringers in Your Middle School Science Class

The bell rings to switch classes, and you absolutely dread the next class period! You get that sinking feeling in your stomach that makes you want to crawl into a corner and wish you were somewhere else. For me, that place is the Maldives! 🌴😂 Your students are always chaotic when they enter the classroom. You hate the beginning of class because the students come into your classroom looking to rain on your parade. I swear the DMX song, 'Y'all gonna make me lose my mind' was meant for teachers. I've been there and then some! Does this sound like some of what you experience as a middle school teacher? 
Well, I have a solution that helped me managed those passing period and beginning of class scaries. At my most recent middle school, all teachers had to stand at their door monitoring the hallway which makes it very difficult to keep control of the hallway and the students already in your classroom. To combat this, I trained my students from day 1 on what my expectations were when they came into my class. I had a slide for each day of the week that I projected on the board to tell them what to do... either getting their science notebooks or supplies they'll need for that class. No matter what the other instructions were for the beginning of class, one thing was certain; they had a bell ringer (or warm-up) to complete at the beginning of class. When I decided that I needed a change to begin each period, I created no-prep bell ringers to use that were either a spiral review or a practice of current concepts. As professionals, we all know that the more practice students have with a concept, the more they will remember the information. With repeated review, students will also be able to apply what they know easier as well. Below is a sample of one style of bell ringer that I created to use in class:
I use this style of bell ringer for a typical beginning of class activity or as an educational time filler. There's 2 of the same bell ringer on one page that I just cut in half and I'm ready to go. If there's 10 minutes left in class, get one of these half sheets out to curb the chaos at the end of class. If I use these as traditional bell ringers, I NEVER graded them to put in the grade book. The students knew that these were for practice purposes ONLY. I wanted students to be able to make mistakes and ask questions. I would usually give the students about 5-7 minutes after the tardy bell rang to complete their daily bell ringer. That way, while students were working, I could take care of attendance and any issues that arose at the beginning of the period. Then, we would go over the answers together, either orally or using a document camera, and students had a chance to ask questions. Below is a sample of the other style of bell ringer that I use in class:
I use this style if I want to make a packet to use as sub plans. Since there are 2 separate bell ringers on one page, this is a great way to include multiple bell ringers and copy front to back. I absolutely love these because they are such easy prep and everything is included for you... well, except the actual copies! If you're using these as a packet for your sub plans, you could take a participation grade to make sure students actually did something when you weren't in the classroom.

At the end of the day, your classroom is YOURS. You spent all those years in school and all that money! Someone once told me, 'It is your classroom, and you have control of it!' I think about that often when I need a mental pep talk. 

If you teach middle school science, check out my no-prep bell ringers to help get your students into a routine that benefits everyone. Click on the picture below to grab this time-saving resource now:


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