How I Create Order with the Help of Bell Ringers

I'm excited to join Pam from Desktop Learning Adventures and Darlene from ELA Buffet and all of the rest of the superior secondary bloggers to bring you some ideas on Bell Ringers.

I think Bell Ringers are essential to creating a classroom community.  Why?  They become part of a routine that satisfies a need for safety that comes from order.  

Allow me to tell you a little story.  

Last year, I taught 2 classes of 8th grade ELA and the rest of the day I was facilitating in General Education classes for students with special needs.  Then there was a problem with a teacher in another ELA class.  The administration asked me to take over that class in October.  Immediately, I began to implement a starting routine that included bell-ringers.  At first this class was mean and would say things like "We don't like you.  We want Miss X back!"  I would respond with "I am sure you do." and then kept right on doing what I was doing.  

But you know what?  By December, they were my best class.  They needed that routine.  They needed someone to take charge of that runaway train and pull everyone together.

Did Bell Ringers do all that?  No!  But the bell ringers were part of our routine and we did them  The students could count on them and they knew what to expect from me so they helped to create stability.  
(And for some kids, stability can be hard to come by.) 

My entire starting routine includes:
1.  Greeting the students at the door.
2.  Students picking up materials.
3.  The bell ringing and me playing an inspiring song in the background.
4.  Students writing in their planners and then beginning the bell work.  (I take attendance.)
5.  I come around and initial planners and answer questions.
6.  The song ends and I announce that there are X number of minutes to complete the bell work.
7.  I come to the front of the room and welcome everyone.  Then we review the learning target and homework due date.
8.  Now we go over the bell ringer.

Believe it or not, this entire procedure takes only about 8 - 10 minutes once we get into the routine.  But you can see that for me, bell ringers are a necessary part of getting everyone in and settled.

Over the years, I have used many different types like:

A review of yesterday's lesson.
 A warm-up or preview of today's lesson.
Skill Practice.
(so students can practice something I have already taught but with which I can't spend any more whole class teaching time.)

Generally, I have gravitated toward skill practice for the very reason I stated above - there's never enough time!  If you use those too, you might want to take a look at these
 skill practice bell ringers all ready to go with a Halloween theme for writing conventions:

Bell Ringer Mentor Sentences with a Spooky Story for the month of October are perfect for any Middle School ELA class!  #teaching #languagearts #grammar #readingskills

I'll be honest - every year I experiment with bell ringers because while some things work well for some students, other things work well for other students - it all depends on the class.

Take this year for example.  
 I am teaching only Special Needs Learning Strategies and am facilitating in 15 other classes.  So for that one class I teach, I have 19 students each with very specific special needs.  Finding what works for them has been a challenge!

In fact, I am still figuring them out and am trying another type of bell ringer with them this week!  

I am going to be trying "free-writing".  Not only will this help build much-needed stamina, it can be an outlet for the students who have a lot on their minds and need some calm down time.

We will discuss what this looks like, sounds like, and feels like before we actually try it out.  We will need lists of ideas in case we get to class (which is the last period of the day) and think we are "done".  

Even though I plan to create the lists as a class activity and make anchor charts, I have ideas all ready to go to make sure our anchor charts are "spot on".  And I am happy to share my
 Free-Writing Plans with you!  

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I totally agree with you...finding the right warm-ups is an ongoing process. I love the free writing posters - so cool! Thanks!

  2. Wow! Sounds like you have quite a challenge this year, Lisa. I, also, love the free writing posters. Wherever did you find blue smiley faces?

  3. I love your 8-step beginning of class routine. I can see how you were able to rein in the class you were asked to take over. It's clear that you can adapt to a wide range of teaching situations!

  4. Interesting! I'd like to hear more about that class you took over last year. I love stories about difficult classes being turned around. It's amazing how a challenging class can turn into an awesome class when given structure and a different approach.

  5. I never thought of Bell Ringers as a way of establishing "safety that comes from order," but that is so true. That's really what happened in your great woe-to-win story. You created a safe environment, and the students loved you for it.

  6. Love the use of music. So great to reach different students. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of establishing a clear and consistent routine for students. The real world examples you share just reinforce this. Thank you!

  8. Morning routines are so important for students and you seem to have a great one started for your kids!


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