Starting Your Class off Right

Starting your class off in a productive way can jump-start a student’s thinking process toward a learning objective/target. “Bell Ringer” activities are usually a short question, problem or task for students to engage in that can either review the previous day’s topic or begin thinking about today’s topic. In a 1:1 digital environment, these bell ringer activities can add more creativity and Google Suite has everything you need to make it relevant and meaningful for the students. I have 4 simple strategies that you can use in any subject that will take between 5-10 minutes to complete.

Create a Comic Strip using Google Drawing

Comic Strip Example
  • ELA: Comic Strips are a great way to encourage reading and writing and reinforce key story elements  Have students recreate a scene from a story the layout of comic strips is a useful tool to help students plan a beginning, middle, and end to their story or their interpretation of an event that occurred in the book.
  • Science/Social Studies: Ask a character/historical figure/Scientist a question. What if students could ask someone they’re studying a question? What would they ask, and how would that person likely respond? Then, use the image search to find a photo of the person to whom they’ll ask the question. Add speech bubbles to ask questions. 
  • Math: Have students discuss a math problem from the previous night’s homework explaining how they solved the problem. These math talks are becoming an effective way to understand the thought process.

#booksnaps exampleCreate #Booksnaps using either Google Slides or Google Drawing
I love this idea for students to be able to respond to text in a creative way. Students locate a passage from a book they are reading that resonates with them. They snap a picture of it and annotate on it, underline and add text reflections. Students can also add fun things like emojis and Bitmojis. Taking it beyond the reading, you can use this for #MathSnaps, #ScienceSnaps, and #SocialStudiesSnaps.

Create a "Tweet" using Google Slides
Have students create tweets like Twitter to review, summarize, and create ideas about an event or topic, using the “Twitter” format of 280 characters or less. Students open Google Slides and search for a topic related image to insert into the Slides. Students can add shapes and text to image resembling a tweet. This strategy can be implemented in any subject area, from book characters tweeting to one another, scientists sharing a discovery, meteorologists with the weather, or historical figures recapping an event. 

Twitter Example

Shared Slides
Create a slide presentation with enough slides for each student in the class. Share that slide deck with the class. Each student gets a slide where he/she can do his/her own work. Depending on the age, you can assign a specific slide or ask students to chose one. You can also create a template for students to add in content or allow students to create their own. I worked with a 3rd-grade teacher during a social studies unit about South Carolina. Students were assigned a letter and a template was created for students to use to insert the information. This is a great opportunity for students to provide feedback on each other’s work in a “closed” digital learning space.

Bell ringer activities can be effective in many ways. Here are a few tips to think about while designing for your instruction:

  • What do the students need to know to find success in the lesson?
  • What skill(s) are students required to use in order to accomplish the learning?
  • The activity should require students to practice that skill by either
    • responding to a question, 
    • completing a short writing assignment,
    • drawing an illustration. 
    • What procedures will you put in place so assigning digital bell ringer activities becomes routine? Staying within the Google Suite, may I suggest using Google Classroom, creating a topic “Bell Ringer” so students have a consistent place to go to each time they walk into your classroom. 
I am curious about your ideas that you have for digital bell work activities. Leave a comment below sharing your examples.


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