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High School Classroom Bell-Ringers, Lesson Ideas for Teachers, Start Strong Each Class Period

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An experienced high school English teacher shares tips and tricks to make your teaching life easier. Today, let’s talk about how to get kids seated and working before the tardy bell rings. Click here to see a M.U.G. Shot mini-lesson in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY58OddW-T4 Click here to check out my M.U.G. Shot semester #1 materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Full-Semester-of-Grammar-MUG-Shot-Warm-Ups-Proofreading-Bell-Ringer-Slides-501662 Lit. Term Tuesday materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Literary-TermsDevices-19-Weekly-Lectures-Bell-Ringers-or-Flipped-Content-476969 Words on Wed. semester #1 materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Full-Semester-Vocabulary-Lessons-for-High-School-Students-Volume-1-504517 Sustained Silent Reading (S.S.R.) materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SSR-Tired-of-Book-Reports-Try-this-FREE-idea-instead-Easy-grading-for-you-494444 More details about how I run the S.S.R. assignment: https://laurarandazzo.com/2016/08/09/making-ssr-work-for-them-and-us/ Quarter Trios blog post: https://laurarandazzo.com/2015/08/10/new-year-game-plan/ No-cheat vocabulary quiz strategy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fiH4DCQLvg Brain Teasers semester #1 materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/BRAIN-TEASERS-VOL-1-Logic-Word-Sense-Puzzles-Lateral-Thinking-Fun-Stuff-1917024 Commonly Confused Words/Homophones semester #1 materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Homophones-Confused-Words-1-Bell-Ringer-Slides-Note-Keeping-Sheets-CCSS-3056181 Lots of advice and free resources for secondary teachers at https://laurarandazzo.com/ Music used with permission of Sing King: https://www.youtube.com/user/singkingkaraoke
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Text Comments (49)
Haneen Arman (2 months ago)
Would the Mugshots work for 6th grade?
Laura Randazzo (2 months ago)
Haneen Arman Perhaps, Haneen, but only after some time has been spent giving explicit grammar instruction. Maybe use MUGs only in the spring semester? Also, I would simplify the sentences a bit and include fewer errors per sentence.
12rwoody (2 months ago)
What do you do with that student who "forgets" his ssr book every Friday or "accidentally" falls asleep while reading? I use a pretty straight forward pts system for accountability, but I'm not sure how effective it is.
12rwoody (2 months ago)
+Laura Randazzo Thanks Laura. You're the best!
Laura Randazzo (2 months ago)
I hear you, 12rwoody. We all have that kid in class. For a kid who forgets his book or falls asleep, I ding the weekly 10-point score, but I'd also call home after the third incident. Clearly, something's up with that kid; he's either sleep deprived (staying up all night online, perhaps?), needs organizational help, or has some other block to learning. Either way, I let the kid know that I'm concerned, that he's losing easy points, and that I need to give his folks a call to problem-solve the situation with them. Did you see I just uploaded an SSR Q&A video this past weekend that talks a bit about some of these issues? It's here, if you're interested: https://youtu.be/qNXABINuRrw Thanks!
Marwa Elnaggar (2 months ago)
Hi Laura, I wanted to ask how much time you give to each student during your Friday one-on-one conference with them? I'm guessing in order for the conference to not be rushed, you'd probably not be able to get to all of them every week, right?
Laura Randazzo (2 months ago)
Oh yeah, Marwa, the time I spend with each kid will vary widely depending on what's needed. For some kids, I'll spend 90 seconds explaining a make-up assignment and then let them work on it independently. Others will get maybe 5 minutes or so as I explain a more complicated writing issue and help model corrections. The "conferences" aren't a check-in with each and every student on my roster; as you mentioned, there's no way we can get to everyone in one class period when rosters are packed with 34 kids. It's more of a way to clean up any lingering issues and give special attention to those who need it. I couldn't run the classroom effectively without those SSR Friday sessions.
Jonathan Sonnier (3 months ago)
Do you happen to have a second Literary Terms presentation? I wish I had seen your bundles; as is I bought it all in pieces, but that's ok. I was just about to buy a lit terms from another seller, but I thought I would contact you first. I will end up purchasing more to use in another class in any case since I have students attending more than one class, and I want to avoid repeating stuff. Thanks
Laura Randazzo (3 months ago)
Jonathan Sonnier Hey, Jonathan. Sorry, I have only that one semester set, which I actually use with all of my grade levels. If you’ve found another cool tool, definitely grab it and use it with your other levels! I’m pretty sure I’m not going to have time to build more in that series anytime soon. Happy planning!
Jonathan Sonnier (3 months ago)
Are the lit terms and SAT vocab bell-ringers available?
Laura Randazzo (3 months ago)
Yes, indeed, Jonathan. You can find them here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Literary-TermsDevices-19-Weekly-Lectures-Bell-Ringers-or-Flipped-Content-476969 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Full-Semester-Vocabulary-Lessons-for-High-School-Students-Volume-1-504517 Thanks for your interest. Hope these save you a ton of prep time. :)
Lauriann Carbajal (3 months ago)
Thank you so much for your videos. You are real! What secondary needs!
Laura Randazzo (3 months ago)
Thanks, Lauriann, for your kind words! Glad you found me. :)
Kimberly Andreas (3 months ago)
I teach 6th grade social studies and although your videos are ELA based, I do find them very helpful! Would you have any good ideas on how to streamline grading of DBQs submitted online via Google Docs? What would YOU be wanting us SS teachers to focus on in a DBQ essay? Just an fyi: my students are the first grade level to experience DBQs in our K-8 district. Thanks again for your great videos!
Laura Randazzo (3 months ago)
Kimberly Andreas Gotta love summer vacation! ;)
Kimberly Andreas (3 months ago)
Thanks SO much for getting back to me so quickly! I really appreciate your insights!
Laura Randazzo (3 months ago)
So glad you're enjoying the channel, Kimberly! I must admit, I haven't really dug into the DBQ requirements. I know that our APUSHistory folks hammer the format into our juniors, but beyond that this is out of my knowledge base. My best advice is to look at those endpoint released samples and work backwards to figure out the beginning steps your 6th graders should focus on as you lay that foundation. I'm also always a big fan of codes to make your feedback/grading load lighter. You'll want to tailor the codes to your history dept. needs, but you can get a general sense of how coding works from this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEFZedSW0I0 Hope this is useful! :)
Shool 4 School (4 months ago)
I use your bellringers and love them. Kids know the routine and I can get my attendance done; win-win!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Precisely, Shool 4 School! Good for them and good for us. Thanks for watching and commenting. I appreciate it! :)
Mimi Schuldenfrei (4 months ago)
Thanks so much - great and practical ideas. I teach EFL in Israel and just shared this with all of my colleagues!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
So glad you found my channel, Mimi, and I appreciate that you're spreading the word! Love that. :)
Mary Allen (4 months ago)
Great routine for bell-ringers...
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Thanks, Mary Allen!
Amanda Cannon (4 months ago)
I like the idea of doing stand alone vocabulary as a bellringer, but do you find it overwhelming for students when you give them additional vocabulary from in-class reading like novels? How do handle that? Thanks for taking the time to make these videos for us! Super helpful!
Amanda Cannon (4 months ago)
Laura Randazzo good point!!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
My pleasure, Amanda. Okay, I might blow your mind here, but I don't give novel-based vocabulary work. Sure, I'll prime the class with weird words before they read a chapter. "Hey, kids, 'bindle' means blanket roll, like an old-fashioned sleeping bag," I'll tell them before they read a section from Of Mice and Men. I don't ever, though, quiz them on our literary-based vocab. words. The SAT ones are enough and those are words they're more likely to encounter in actual adult life. I mean, who calls a rolled up blanket a "bindle" anymore, anyway? :)
JoAnne Markov (4 months ago)
I would love advice on how to structure 90-minute blocks in general. I will be using your warm-ups, along with a growth mindset journal prompt once a week. I think I’m going to incorporate SSR into the last 40-45 minutes of the week, as well.
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Hey, JoAnne! Yeah, the block is different sort of beastie. I just added your question to my "make a video on this topic" brainstorm list, but I'll give you the quick two-cents here. I've found success with chopping up the 90-min. block into six 15-minute-ish chunks in my mind. No single activity is allowed to fill more than two consecutive chunks. So, a day might look like this: 1. Bell-ringer 2. Game/attention grabber to intro. new lesson 3. Dig into a poem, short story, or article we're going to study 4. Continue the text work 5. Think-pair-share and a full-class debrief of the material 6. Quarter Trio challenge/community builder Each day is a little different, of course, but I like to keep things moving, esp. with those longer classes. When I taught on a 55-minute daily calendar, I mentally planned three 20-minute-ish chunks of activities. The block just needed a slight adjustment and we were off and running with pretty much all of the same assignments that I'd used on the traditional schedule. Hope this is helpful.
Laurie W (4 months ago)
I love your resources. I teach 7th grade, so I am thinking this might be to difficult for my students. Do you have any resources that will work for 7th grade?
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Thanks, Laurie! I've actually heard from several middle school teachers that they're successfully using these same slides with their kids. You might need to modify things a bit, depending on your kids. For instance, you could ask them to find four errors and then you follow up by explaining the extra five more subtle errors. I know TpT has a BUNCH of middle school stuff, too, though I haven't personally vetted those resources. Just be sure to dig into the "preview" for the items over there and you should get a good sense of whether a product is a good match for your kiddos. Happy planning! :)
Right on! I find the "daily warm-up" essential for keeping our class running smoothly. Funny story: as I was reading through the feedback I collected from my students at the end of the year I find this gem, "The warm-ups were helpful (I learned a lot about grammar), but I didn't like that we had to do them at the beginning of class each day." *shaking my head* my dear, silly 8th grader those minutes at the start of the period were for MY benefit (take attendance, collect homework, quick sip of coffee, deep, cleansing breath, ok let's go!). Besides, I call them a "warm-up" because they are much smaller and easier than the main event lesson we are about to launch into. 😂
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Woodland Creature Teacher You get me, WCT. They need the skills and we need a minute to take care of our business, which always includes one last swig of lukewarm coffee. Caffeinated teacher = Happy teacher
Sarah Wheelee (4 months ago)
Have you written a book? If not you should. I trust your opinion and there aren’t enough books on teaching secondary from a teachers perspective.
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Oh, look at you, jenriv89, clearing my mental obstacles! :D
jenriv89 (4 months ago)
Perhaps a NaNoWriMo project?
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Katie Miller Oh, lordy... I can’t even go there yet. :)
Katie Miller (4 months ago)
I second this! Next year’s 20 time maybe?!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Yes, please, and THANK YOU, Sarah! Keep spreading the word and I'll keep awkwardly talking to my phone camera. ;)
tkem28 (4 months ago)
My mentor told me day one to make the secretaries your BFF'S because they run the school! Absolutely 100% right on!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Ab-so-lute-ly, tkem28. Irritate the secretaries? Prepare yourself for a long, l-o-n-g year. :)
Digitally Yours, Adele (4 months ago)
Wow ! I thought _I_ made up the term "Do Nows"!!!! So ... it's a real THING?!!!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
That's okay, Adele. I thought I invented the term, "MUG Shot" for mechanics, usage, and grammar. Nope. It's been around a lot longer than me, apparently. *shrugs* Thanks – as always – for watching!
xyhanx (4 months ago)
You're back at it my virtual mentor!!! Liking the video before even watching. :D
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
Enjoy your new kiddos! You've got this. ;)
xyhanx (4 months ago)
Glad YOU'RE here with me! Your generosity with ideas and wisdom goes halfway across the world. I ran out of your vlogs to watch so I literally screamed when your new vid appeared. lol. Our school year starts on Monday so wish me luck!
Laura Randazzo (4 months ago)
I think that qualifies you as a super-fan, xyhanx! Love that support. And, yes, summertime is a much easier time to film and edit video. Glad you're here with me! :)

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