I’ve been considering the use of bellringers in my classroom and have decided that I’m not a huge fan. I think the idea behind the practice is great (something for the kids to do to give me time to start class; a method for multiple choice practice; good review of prior content; a way to introduce new content), but implementing it effectively has not been a strength of mine in the past. I acknowledge that I need to be more intentional in ACT/AP practice, and have been pondering how I can use the first few minutes of class more effectively to meet the demands of multiple choice practice. [This is not a post to debate the pros and cons of standardized testing. It’s a plan to address the fact that they exist and that I live smack dab in the middle of them.]
Here’s what I think I am going to try out for the next 3 weeks (that’s how much time until the Christmas vacation).
My students are already arranged into groups of 4, 5 or 6, depending on the size of the class. I have no more than 6 groups in each section. I also teach Algebra 2 and AP Stats, so only 2 preps to consider.
As students enter the room, each one will get 3-5 multiple choice questions and I will have a timer running for 8-10 minutes. Students will work in their groups to agree on the solutions to each problem. Once agreement has been reached, they will submit their answers to me (either on an index card or using technology–I haven’t decided on that yet) and I will tell them how many they have right. They will have until the timer goes off to get as many right as they can. At the end of the time, they will get one “point” for each correct response. The team with the most points at the end of the 3 weeks will be declared the winner.
I’m hoping that the competitive aspect of it will motivate students to want to do well and that the group aspect of it will allow all students access to the questions and allow me use use some higher level questions that I might not normally attempt to incorporate into a bellringer. I am also hoping that the timer will keep me from letting this activity take over the class period.
I’ll give it three weeks and see how it goes!