Harry Wong
Jun 2017
Vol 14 No 2

Bellwork – Chatboard Collective Wisdom: Bell Work

By Teachers.Net Community

Posted by Leigh on the Classroom Management chatboard

How do you create bellwork? Since I teach Algebra 2, I have created an ACT Min worksheet in which questions are based on the ACT. Now, I am wondering if there isn’t a better way. Any tips on how you grade, collect, and/or structure bellwork would be appreciated.

Response by Daniel Hanson
I use the bell work  for the first 5-10
minutes of class to get my students settled down and focus in
my Spanish classes. Also, I take advantage of that time to
take roll and take care of any school or classroom business.
That’s one of my purposes for bell work. I also use it so the
kids review or to refresh about what they are studying from
the previous day’s lesson or from the unit of study we are
in. I also use it to review or recycle concepts from
previously chapters like grammar or vocabulary items on which
the students will need to build on for today’s lesson or
unit. I also use that time to have them create and respond to
short culture excerpts from our textbook. So, that’s why I
use them. I create them on my own from the textbook and what
we are working on.

As for math, I don’t see why you can’t have the students work
on similar problems like the one they were working on the
night before. Then you could really see if they remember how
to do the work and if they are retaining the information
well. You can also use that time to review for ACT or SAT

You could also review items during the year for their
state math exam in April or whenever your state does it. You
could choose review material from previous chapters so that
that information stays in their heads in time for the
semester final. There can be lots of things. You could maybe
do word problems to get their brains thinking at the
beginning of class.

Of course, please keep in mind that you want them to do like
5 minutes worth or work or so. You don’t
want to give them too many problems at the beginning of class
or else they will get discouraged and you want their brains
fresh for today’s lesson and for the tonight’s homework.
As for grading,—and again, this is my philosophy about bell
work: that it’s time for the students to focus and PRACTICE
for my class—I collect the bell work and it gets stamped for
completeness. I give the bell ringers work back at the beginning of
class. Students use the same piece of paper for the entire
week. Then on Friday I collect it for the last time and my
T.A.’s count up the stamps and assign completion points, like
2 points per day per stamp. So, like 10 points for the entire
week’s worth of bell work. I leave the students’ accuracy up
to them. I call on students and ask for student volunteers to
go over the answers for the bell ringer work. It’s up to the
students to make the changes and to pay attention and make
the most of that time.

If you really wanted to, you could do
bell work quizzes to make sure they are paying attention when
you go over the answers, like by Friday pick a random problem
from each day’s bell work for the week and the students have
to copy their answers for those problems for a grade. The
student gets a point or not based off the accuracy of the
answer. It’s an all or nothing assessment for each problem in
the quiz since you went over the answers each day in class
with the students. You can also spot-check the bell work each
day for like certain answers for a grade. You could have your
T.A.’s do that as well.

Response by Teri
I’m English/reading. In my English classes, we do a
grammar/mechanics daily practice. In my reading classes, the
students learn a new root word each day. We go over the bell work
each day and students are supposed to correct it. Once a week,
it is collected, one day of the week is chosen at random, and I
check that day’s work. All corrections must have been made.
Then, it’s a quiz grade.

A friend of mine who is a math teacher gives a couple of math
problems each day–based on the night before’s homework. They go
over them to start the day’s lesson (since math lessons usually
build on one another). She collects them at the end of the week
and gives them a quiz grade. Another option from another teacher
I know–instead of grading them, he includes the exact same
questions on his weekly quiz. The kids work hard on the bell
work and pay attention when they go over them since they know it
will help them on their quiz.

Response by sportsmama
All excellent suggestions. As a math teacher, I do some very
similar things but I require the students to keep a “math
journal”. In it, they put the “bell ringer” which can be anything
from a problem on a previously assigned homework or test (one that
they had trouble with), and vocabulary. I require them to use a
spiral (papers won’t get lost). After I have taken care of roll, I
will walk around to insure that they are completing the work, etc.
I can also see if they have even been doing the work. I call on a
student to share their answer on the board and have everyone make
any necessary corrections. We often find out that there can be more
than one way to work a problem. About three times during the
grading period, I give a “journal” quiz of about 5 questions. They
are allowed to use their journal so their grade should be a 100;
however, if some have slacked off . . . well, you get the picture.

The original poster, Leigh added
All of you have great suggestions! Thanks!
Here is what I have been doing. Each class begins with a question from
an old ACT practice test. Students are to completely copy and answer
the question. After approximately 5 min (enough time for me to check
role etc…),I choose someone to answer. If the student cannot answer
it is ok, and I move to another student. If the student is correct
they receive a 5 point bonus slip and a piece of candy. (My students
will jump through fire for a jolly rancher!) If no one can answer, I
guide the class through the answer. At the end of the week students
are to hand in the ACT worksheet with their questions and solutions.
All work is to be copied and all work is to shown. Each question is
worth 2 points,since the solution and work is provided during class.
In the past I have believed this was good review for the ACT and an
easy with to collect points for the students (but not pad their grade
too much.)

I was just wondering if their wasn’t a more efficient way. I was
considering daily quizzes in lieu of my bellringers or homework. Does
anyone give daily quizzes?

Response by Zodea
I still struggle with bell work. Last year was probably my best year so
far as in I did a bell ringer almost every day in most of my classes.
The obvious problem with a daily quiz is that you need to grade it daily.
Weekly or monthly would make much more sense. I agree that you could let
students use their bell ringer journal to take the quiz. If they did the
work and kept it organized, they should do well on the quiz.
One problem I have with bell ringers (and other homework assignments) is I
have a few students who just sit there until they can either get help from
their friends or until I go through and review the correct answers. This
has been especially troublesome with chapter review sheets since I do not
normally grade those.

So I am thinking about instituting participation points. I wanted to call it a responsibility grade but my department head said participation is probably better since it is commonly used in other classes. Basically this would be 10-15 points per week and probably part of the homework grade. Homework is only worth 10 percent in my classes and often just completion grades. Basically I’m thinking students will ‘lose’ their participation points if they are not working on the bell ringer at the beginning of the class. They will ‘lose’ participation points if they are working on other subjects when they should be working on science. They will ‘lose’ participation points if they are talking instead of working. They will ‘lose’ participation points if they are not actively involved in their lab experience.

Now I think I should phrase these things in the positive instead of the
negative when I send home my class expectations, but in reality, students



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