Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Keep your class on task with these relevant and fun Life Science activities!
Picture this: the bell rings and a swarm of students burst through the door. A student approaches wanting to ask you about their grade, your attendance must be submitted within the first few minutes of class, you want to look over your notes to switch gears from the last period, and you need to set up lab supplies. Does this scenario sound familiar? This scene use to happen to me every class period and I found myself frustrated before class had even begun! When I started to consider how much time was being wasted transitioning my students when they first walked in to class I became determined to do something differently.
If I could save 10 minutes of transition time for each class period, I would gain back more than 200 hours of instructional time for the year!
What are bell-ringers?
If you are unfamiliar with the term "bell-ringers," let me clarify. Bell-ringers are classroom activities that students can complete at the beginning of the class. Most teachers use bell-ringers to review important concepts with their students and provide a transitional activity to help focus the class quickly before instruction. I wanted to incorporate bell-ringers and transitional activities into my schedule but I came across two problems:
1) Most of the bell-ringers I came across were boring or busy work. I really wanted my students to be motivated to complete their bell-ringers because if I had to spend time telling my students to do their work it defeated the whole purpose of the bell-ringer!
2) The other problem I had was that some of the bell-ringers I came across were too general and irrelevant to the content I would be covering with my students that week. I know I hated busy work as a student so I really try to avoid giving busy work to my students.
Thus....the digital bell-ringers
That is what inspired me to create one of my favorite teaching resources of all time...digital bell-ringers! These bell-ringers save me so much time and keep my students on task while I take attendance and set up for the period. One of the things I love the most about using these bell-ringers is that the activities give students pertinent background knowledge about what we are going to talk about that day before I even introduce the concept.
I discovered that my students were much more confident about participating in class discussions after doing the bell-ringers.
Since the activities are geared to student interests I had really good participation, especially when it came to sharing personal experiences! (See one of our favorite bell-ringers below.)
Digital bell-ringers in the Google Classroom
Since the bell-ringers were made in Google slides they are super easy to add to your digital or Google classroom. The interactive slides can be added to your Google Drive and used year after year! Students keep the slides in edit mode and can add text, images, and drawings using the tools in Google slides. The slides can be used as a science center with students working together in small groups or if students are in a 1:1 environment they can have their own copy and work on it in a digital classroom like the Google Classroom. I actually scheduled out my bell-ringers in my Google classroom in advance (see below) and students would come to class and begin working on the bell-ringers on their own (can you believe it?!)
By giving each student their own copy of the bell-ringers, they also had their own reference of the material we discussed at the beginning of each class. The activities became a good replacement for having to stash interactive notebooks in the class or hope that students remembered to bring them. Another benefit to the digital activities is that students who were absent could complete the bell-ringers at home. I actually had students finish a bell-ringer or two early if they knew they were going to be absent in advance. (Gotta love those proactive students!)
Try a FREE sample!
These bell-ringers were definitely a labor of love! With 111 different kinds of activities including meme making, Instagram & Facebook posts, videos with response questions, comic strips, matching activities, group discussion questions, Twitter posts, word bubble activities and MUCH MORE....I was determined to keep the activities relevant to both me and my students.
How do I get the full set?
If you do not have time to create your own complete set of digital bell-ringers you can check mine out by clicking the link below. There are 37 specific life science topics arranged by week for your convenience. Each topic includes 3 engagement activities that can be used as bell-ringers, exit slips, or other transitional time. You can also check out my full year of Chemistry bell-ringers by clicking here.