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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Fun End of Year Inquiry Science Activity

Measuring Volume lab-completed
Measuring Volume lab-completed

Measuring Volume lab

Let me guess- you’re already thinking about the end of the school year.  You’re tired, but you’d like one more meaningful activity.   Maybe something that could even give a nice spark to the end of the school year.  Is that how you feel? If so, you should consider the classic “Measure Colored Liquid” activity (it’s also commonly called the “Measuring Volume Lab”).

Essentially, here’s how the lab goes- students get into groups, and each group gets 6 test tubes and 3 beakers of colored water.  The instructions tell them to put certain volumes of certain colors into certain test tubes, and to also pour between the test tubes along the way. If they follow the directions perfectly, they’ll end up with a beautiful rainbow across their test tubes, all with the exact same amount of liquid!

Measuring volume lab-empty test tubes

Lab-at beginning

Measuring Volume Lab-midway through

Midway through

Measuring Volume lab-completed


You’ll definitely want to look over the different versions of this great end of the school year science activity so you can decide which is best for your students, and to give you a chance to prepare (please don’t start getting ready for this lab as your students are coming in the room!).

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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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Save Effort And Increase Participation When Calling On Students

Get some craft sticks and write a students' name on each. Your done! Now you can easily increase student participation.

What’s your method of calling on students? Does it take much effort? If it does, popsicle sticks can help!

Get some craft sticks and write a students' name on each. Your done! Now you can easily increase student participation.

Get some craft sticks and write a students’ name on each. Your done! Now you can easily increase student participation.

Here’s how it works: First, get some popsicle sticks (also called craft sticks in a hobby store) and write a student’s name on each. Put them in a cup or beaker or basket. When it’s time to call on a student, draw a random name.


  • Everyone’s more involved, not just the same 3-4 students who always raise their hands.
  • Random- students don’t know when they’ll be called, so they pay more attention. Random also means no one can accuse you of picking on them.
  • It’s simple, cheap, and takes little time to create; yet you can use them all year.
  • Get more balanced participation, which gives you a better idea of what students actually understand, and not just the few brave enough to offer the correct answer that no one else might have even known.
  • Livens the pace of class.
  • It has game-like feel to it- ‘Who’s name will be drawn next?’
  • One more benefit you may not notice but is really nice- having this system in place means your mind is a little more free to focus on the main points you’re trying to make.
As you draw names you can either leave them out and keep going until everyone's been called on, or put them back in each time so everyone's always a possible draw.

As you draw names you can either leave them out and keep going until everyone’s been called on, or put them back in each time so everyone’s always a possible draw.


  • Make a different set of sticks for each class you have
  • If you draw a name you’d rather not call on (because they’ve already spoken in class, they’re not great readers, or you just don’t have the patience) set the stick aside and draw another.
  • You don’t have to use this system permanently; you can still call on any one at any time, and ask for hands/volunteers.
  • As you call names leave their stick laying out so you’ll draw others, causing more students to participate. Or, put sticks back in after every draw so everyone’s always in.
  • Use a different colored marker to write names for each class (black for your 1st hour, blue for your 2nd hour, and so forth). You could also use a different colored stick for each class you have.  Either way- if the a stick ends up in the wrong cup it’s easy to find.
  • Use these also for selecting students to pass out papers, or to assign new seats, or  (100 other things).

No, it’s not a perfect system, but it can improve how you call on students and simply your life. If so, keep using it!

Try it out and then let us know what other suggestions you have.

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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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Did you see the Geminids meteor shower?  It was incredible!

Whether you did or didn’t, with Stellarium you can still simulate it on a computer for your students.  That and about 100 other things can be shown.

Celestia is another free planetarium, but not nearly as user-friendly.

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