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Biology Warm Ups and Bell Ringers: Great Classroom Management Tool

Warm ups and bell ringers are definitely a "vintage" idea, but this tried and true classroom management tool is still effective for most classes.

Classroom management is one of my strengths. I am organized and have every single minute of class time planned before my students arrive at the door. I consider classroom management to be one of the most important aspects of teaching, second only to having a deep knowledge of your subject area. I teach "bell to bell" and gear the pacing of my class to the learning abilities of my students.  Frankly, I am good at it ....... Or so I thought.

A few years ago, I had a class that was a bit more challenging than the average high school biology class. The class consisted of 25 freshmen and sophomores, all nice kids, not a bad apple in the bunch. They were rarely disrespectful, but always came into the room overly antsy and excitable. It took longer than normal to get them settled in so class could begin. All teachers know that the first few minutes of a class period can be somewhat chaotic. Students are socializing with one another, students who have been absent are asking for missed assignments, attendance must be taken, graded papers must be returned, homework assignments must be collected. The list goes on and on.

I had not used "bell ringers" for quite some time, but I thought this might be a good tool for getting this class under control. Further, I wondered if I could get this group of high schoolers to keep and maintain a notebook of these warm ups.

The answer is a resounding...

What are the benefits?
You can turn this chaotic time of your class into a time of meaningful learning. Using bell ringers establishes a daily routine of having your students complete thought provoking and problem solving tasks during the first 5 minutes of the class.  Once the routine is established, students will enter the room and get right to work on the warm-up or bell-ringer activity. These warm-ups are designed to take 5-7 minutes to complete. It settles the students and provides the instructor a few minutes to carry out the tasks required at the beginning of a class.

It took a bit of time, but I now have sets of bell ringers for every chapter of a traditional high school biology class. Since most biology or life science textbooks are generally divided into ten units, I organized my warm up activities in the same fashion:
  • Unit 1:  Introduction to Science (Scientific Method, Graphing, Chemistry, Biochemistry)
  • Unit 2:  Cells
  • Unit 3:  Ecology
  • Unit 4:  Genetics
  • Unit 5:  Evolution
  • Unit 6:  Microorganisms and Fungi
  • Unit 7:  Plants
  • Unit 8:  Invertebrates
  • Unit 9:  Chordates
  • Unit 10:  The Human Body

All units have been added to my TPT store and can be viewed at this link.

The pages are printed landscape style. The pages look best if printed in color, but also look great if printed in black/white. Each activity is one-half page in size. Two identical warm-ups are printed per page in order to conserve paper.  In this time saving classroom management strategy, all you have to do is print the pages and cut them in half.

    The warm-ups/bell ringers require and measure a wide variety of skills: 
Compare and contrast
Identify and label
Define terms
Graphing and Tabling
Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
Short Answer
Cause and Effect
Fill in the Blank

These half-page activities can be collected and quickly graded, or you might want to have your students keep a daily warm-up notebook. These warm-ups will make excellent additions to your interactive notebooks. An added benefit…… The completed warm-up notebook makes an excellent review for the semester exam!

I now have 41 sets of bell ringers in my TPT. They can be purchased individually, and they are arranged into four large unit bundles:

I hope these work as well for you as they did for me.

Have fun teaching!

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas in here! It sounds like you and I have similar views on classroom management. I also view it as a strength of mine. I have had wonderful luck with "Do Nows." I would never go back to not using them in class. They are a great way to review key information and introduce new information. Thank you for sharing your ideas!