Bellwork Keeps Me Sane

I call warmups "Bellwork".  I heard it once and thought it was cute.
Bellwork - work you do when the bell rings.

Why do I use bellwork activities for high school students?  Warmups, bell ringers, or whatever you call them, save my sanity!

I am very strict about my beginning of class routine.  My kids come in, check their homework, and start their bellwork.  I'm "so mean" that I even expect them to start working before the bell rings (or so I've been told).  Once their bellwork is finished, I'm usually ready to start class.  It's a personal pet peeve when kids are noisy at the beginning of class.  I also need to take attendance and check their homework.

90% of the time, this is what you will see:
  • Kids walk in and pick up the key for the previous night's homework.
How Bellwork Saves My Sanity Each and Every Class Period  |
  • They check their homework while I walk around and check it for completion.
  • Then, the kids put their homework key away and get their notebook out of the cabinet.
How Bellwork Saves My Sanity Each and Every Class Period  |
  • Then, they work on their bellwork and put away their notebook when they're finished.
Since they start before the bell rings, they are totally done with this within the first 5-7 minutes of class.  Sometimes, I plan for the bellwork to take a little longer so that I can give them review time.  Other times, I make it very short so that we can get started as soon as possible.

This works for me.  It makes the beginning of every class smooth.  It gives me a mental "reset" if the previous class period was stressful.

Bellwork.  I'm a huge fan.

What does your beginning of class routine look like?