An Effective Bellringer For Your Science Class

You already know the first few moments of class are critical. It’s when tone is set and students are most attentive and excited.

It’s also when you’re just coming in from watching the hall, need to take attendance, answer a ringing phone, and deal with late students.


Is there solution to this? Yes there is. Here’s a simple class starter to get your students engaged from the moment they enter your classroom while giving you a chance to take care of your essential housekeeping items.

Decide what the most important key term is in your lesson tomorrow (hint- it’s probably a vocab. word). Write that word on your board. When your students come in have them take out a sheet of notebook paper, write down the word, find it in the book, and write 2 facts about it.

Chalkboard with science key term of the day written on it

Chalkboard with science key term of the day written on it

It will take your students about 3-4 minutes to do this, which is just the time you could use to get yourself fully prepared for the lesson.

When your students are done writing their facts, call on a few to share one of their facts. You can use that opportunity to start small discussions and ask them questions to see how well they understand the concept.

The next day, do the same with another word.

Sure, this will take time to train your students to do. But after a week of so you’ll can start reaping the benefit of getting yourself fully prepared for class while your students’ minds are being primed.

And speaking of benefits, here are a few you’ll enjoy with this bellringer:

    • Students enter with purpose since there’s already something they know they have to do
    • Books are already opened when you start the lesson
    • Discipline: class is more settled and waiting for you to begin
    • Class is already thinking about the major topic of the day before you say a word
    • When you use this term in class you know your students have a decent idea what you’re talking about; you used to hope and assume they did
    • When discussing/sharing facts, information flows from them to you instead of the other way around (think about that one), and hence…
    • You’ll have student-led discussion about the most important idea of the day during the most important part of the class period

Here’s a downloadable copy of this science class starter you can keep on your computer, or print.

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Improving Your Teacher Time Management

It’s mid-morning. The bell just rang, and you just started a 45 minute prep. Should you:

A. Grade papers,

B. plan lessons,

C. make copies, or

D. go to the workroom in search of cake?

Answer- B. Plan lessons.

Where did that quick answer come from?  Check out this chart-

What your mind is capable of doing, from morning to afternoon.

What your mind is capable of doing, from morning to afternoon.

The above chart shows what happens to your brain throughout the day. The earlier it is, the better your mind works. Which is why planning lessons- the hardest to do of the 4 choices above- is what’s recommended.

The reason for the slow down is because your mind is like a cup- it can only hold so much.  So, in the mornings, when your mind is less crowded, it works better. But as the day wears on, thoughts and cares fill your “cup”, making it less effective.  And the reason for that is because of the increasing collective weight of all those thoughts and cares.

So when is it ok to grade papers? And, more importantly, when do you get cake? Try to remember this question- “What’s the most important thing I need to do right now?“. If you ask yourself this and attempt an honest answer, you’ll usually know what to do. Since grading papers normally takes less brainpower than planning, grading should usually wait. But if you’re caught up on planning and behind on grading, then sure, go ahead and grade.

Here’s a suggested method that will help collect all those thoughts in your head, and to know which is the most important that you need to act on right now.


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“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time. ”
-Herbert Bayard Swope, US editor & journalist (1882 – 1958)

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