There is nothing like the sound of students working hard on an assignment the minute class has begun. What is that sound? Silence. I loved it. I was able to recover from the class that just ended and prepare for the class that was beginning all while students were learning on their own. In this post I will explain why Bell Work is effective and provide you with some examples of activities you can use in your classes.
What is Bell Work and how do I use it?
Bell Work (also called Bell Ringers) are activities posted on the board or distributed to students as they arrive to class that should be started at or before the time the bell rings (or the time when your catechetical session is scheduled to begin). These activities can be a review of previous lessons, practice of current skills, or introductions to the new lesson of the day. You can communicate Bell Work in the following ways:
- Write the assignments on the whiteboard or chalkboard.
- Type and save the assignment in a Word document, PowerPoint slide, or SMART Board page ahead of time and project it as the students arrive. (This was my personal preference)
- Have a designated place in the classroom for students to pick up the day’s Bell Work (or notes)
Some teachers have students keep a Bell Work journal to complete these daily assignments. You may collect them or briefly check them while they complete their work.
How to Use Bell Work Time Effectively
- Take attendance
- Check homework
- Prepare the other assignments for the day’s lesson
- Pass back homework, quizzes, and other assignments
- Say a silent prayer
- Relax and enjoy the quiet
Effective Bell Work Activity Examples
• Review Questions – You may use questions from the textbook or create your own about the previous lesson.
• Introductory Questions –Use Bell Work to introduce topics and get students thinking about controversial or interesting ideas related to the lesson of the day.
• Reflective Questions – If you incorporate journaling into your instruction, then the beginning of class is the perfect time to give students the opportunity to journal. Create a question related to the topic of the day, current event, or liturgical year.
• Reading Assignment – In preparation for the day’s lesson you can have students read (or re-read) from the textbook.
• Graphic Organizers – Graphic organizers are ways for students to visually represent the things they have learned. Invite students to use their notes to complete these worksheets.
• KWL Charts – Have students create a KWL chart by folding their paper as if they were sending a letter. Write a topic on the board and have students write everything they know about the topic (under the K column) and everything they want to know (under the W column) and leave the third column blank (what I learned).
• Concept Maps (Mind Maps) – have students write everything they know about a topic (as review or introduction) in concept map form.
• “Entrance Cards” – similar to “Exit Cards,” these formative assessments allow you to view quick responses to questions as a review or an estimation of prior knowledge.
• Photographs and Artwork – Pull up a picture or piece of art from the internet or bring into class a painting to initiate some reflection. You may also accompany the picture with some questions.
• Music – songs can be used to introduce the topic of the day or inspire some reflective journal time.
Download Resources for Bell Work
Want to access a library of worksheets to use for Bell Work? Premium members of The Religion Teacher have access to 100s of worksheets including weekly Gospel reading worksheets to use in class. These activities are perfect resources for Bell Work. In addition, members have access to dozens of class videos and online courses for professional development and spiritual formation.