Math Bell Ringers

My school officially opens up for students in about three weeks.  Teachers can enter in about a week or so since the floors are being waxed and cleaned.  Like many educators during this time of the year, I’m starting to plan out what my first few days are going to look like.  I had a chance to review my schedule and it looks like I’ll be teaching math to students in grades K-5 next year. Right now, all of my materials are in about 30 boxes in my new classroom.  I had to relocate over the summer because of enrollment and extra sections.

As I was looking over the #TMC17 and #MTBoS tags this weekend I started to notice other teachers are also persevering through the planning process.  I also had a chance to catch up on a few blogs yesterday. Reading other peoples’ reflections ignited my own reflection process and I started putting together this post.  One part of my school day that I’m planning out relates to my advanced math class bell ringers. For me, bell ringers have been an ever-changing process from year to year.  A bell ringer is what my students complete during the first 10 minutes of class.  I have a 60 minutes math block for my 3-5th grade classes.  I tend to have students come into my class at different times because of band, orchestra, or other circumstances.  Usually I get all of the students in my class within the first five minutes.  Some students are waiting outside my door at the exact time the math block starts, while others are not.  When students come into the classroom they follow the flow chart and take a look at the agenda that I have projected on the whiteboard.

I tend to use bell ringers to review math concepts that were taught earlier in the week.  I used to use brain teasers and different math games, but they weren’t exactly related to what was being taught.  Each grade level (3-5) uses a different type of ringer and some work better than others.  I’ve been looking at more quality ringers over the summer.  The first 5-10 minutes of class is so valuable and I want to make sure the ringer has students thinking about math in ways that benefit them.  Here’s what I have planned so far:

Third Grade –

I’m going to use Estimation180 as my bell ringer.  Students will come into the classroom, follow the flow chart, open their folder and begin working on the daily E180.  Last year my third grade class was able to make it to around 140 days.  This was something that my kids enjoyed and it was a low-risk activity that had them engaged from the start.  While students look at the day they filled out something similar to this sheet. This year, I’m thinking of having students complete open number lines for some of the days.  It might take a little bit more time, but I’m thinking it’ll be worth it as the year progresses.

Fourth Grade –

My fourth graders have been using Scholastic’s Dynamath for the past few years.  It’s been a great extension for some students, but not all.  I generally assign specific pages and then we review them as a class. I’m still in the process of looking for additional ways to use this bell ringer time more effectively.  I was thinking of possibly using VisualPatterns.  Maybe one pattern per week or something like that.

Fifth Grade –

Last year my fifth grade students used Math Magazine for their bell ringer.  Similar to Dynamath, Math Magazine is designed to reinforce skills taught and also extends into areas that aren’t as familiar.  The publisher designed this particular magazine for middle school math students, but it works well with my math class. At times, students needed to look up different skills to complete this magazine.  I’m thinking of having students use SERP’s AlgebrabyExample.  I started using it last year for a couple months.  I love the variety of problems and that students have to find and correct mistakes.   It also helps that it’s free, unlike the Scholastic resources. This is much different than what students are accustomed to doing in math class.  I’m thinking that students can complete one page per week.  What’s nice is that I can match the skills with a topic that the class is currently exploring.

I’m sure I’ll refine this before school starts, but it’s a start.  What do you use for math bell ringers?



Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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