• Allison Felten

10 Types of Bell Ringer Questions

When students walk in (or login) to your classroom it’s always a good idea to give them a quick five-to-ten-minute task to complete. These “bell ringer” tasks are meant to engage the student immediately which can prevent a lot of crazy energy that is hard to get under control. It can also act as a formative tool to see what students remembered from previous lessons. The following post goes over different types of beginning of class questions that can engage students:

1. Question and Answer

This is the most used format for beginning of the class questions. A teacher will give the students a question that they have to respond to. This is a direct way to get information. Questions can be specific, requiring a single answer, or open-ended giving students the freedom to explain something through their own thoughts and words.

2. True or False

Beware of the true and false question! Though a teacher can get good data on student understanding, these questions can be completed quickly and without much thought. When giving a true or false bell ringer consider having more than one question, requiring the students to explain their choices, or having them rewrite the false statements as true statements.

3. Vocabulary

Sometimes students need to know certain words to understand the content. There are many ways to write a vocabulary specific bell ringer question. The teacher can give the students a definition and ask for the vocabulary word that matched, they can give the students a vocabulary words and have the students write the definition, or they can give the students a vocabulary word and definition and have them write a definition in their own words.

4. Example/Nonexample

Asking students for examples and nonexamples is an awesome way to see how a they think. Asking for examples over your content will let the teacher know if your student understands the basic concept while nonexamples will allow the teacher to catch misconceptions students may have.

5. Find a Picture

Have the students find a picture to represent a certain topic. To stop all students from picking the first image from Google the teacher can make this more challenging by saying students at the same table or area can’t have the same picture.

6. Personal Connections

Have the students write about a personal connection they have with the material. All students have unique experiences and in the right situation they can connect those experience to what they are learning.

7. Notes/Book/Homework Question

Give the students a question that can only be answered by looking at the previous day’s notes, their class book, or assigned homework. This question type can feel a bit like a “GOTCHA!” question so be careful how you handle the students that forgot their material.

8. Create a Poem

There are so many poem formats that students can use to show what they know. For example, a teacher can ask the student to do a haiku (but be prepared to explain what a syllable is) or a vocabulary word can be given and the student will have to create an acrostic poem (a word for each letter). Teachers can even have students free-style and make their own unique poem.

9. Website Hunt

Give the students a specific website to go to in order to find answers to a question. The teacher can make the hunt easier by sending students to a website they are familiar with or the teacher can make it more challenging by sending them to a new website. Also, don’t be afraid to have the students look in captions, charts, and graphs for answers.

10. Make a Question

Have students write their own question about the content. The teacher can give them a specific type of question (true or false, multiple choice, short answer) or let them create their own. Also have the students give the correct answer for their question and explain so they can think if the question makes sense or not.


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