Read. Write. Speak. Listen. Engage Your Students in the First Ten Minutes

Over the years, one thing I have learned that is tried and true about teaching English is that if you have your students read, write, listen, and speak in class each day, you are covering the four pillars of the English language arts. I try to have my students engaged in these four pillars within the first five to ten minutes of class. I do this through my daily bell-ringer activities.

This is a classroom routine that I establish during the first week of school. It takes a couple days to teach, but once the students know the routine, it is so worth it. During this time while my students are working on the bell-ringer, I take attendance, gather all of the supplies and resources I need for the day, and sometimes pass graded work back to my students.

The moment my students walk into my classroom, they know that there will be a bell-ringer exercise to work on. My bell-ringers are usually a broad mix of activities. Sometimes it will consist of a review or higher-order thinking question from a text we are reading. Some days it might be sentence combining to work on grammar. Other days the bell-ringer might be a quick write prompt that will engage the students in and introduce them to that day’s lesson.

Whatever it may be, there are three very important rules to follow.

1.     Be consistent – This must be a daily habit. There needs to be a bell-ringer every single day. This helps the students because they know what to expect.

2.     Hold the student accountable – The students need to know that they are responsible for each day’s bell ringer. The students in my classroom receive credit for the work. If they are tardy or not on-task, they don’t receive credit and they are also not allowed to make up the points.
- Click HERE to see how I hold my students accountable during this time.

3.     Review the bell-ringer – This is probably the most important rule. This rule incorporates listening and speaking into the mixture. Each day I will call on several students to share their answers. Reviewing the bell-ringer is important. If the activity resulted a correct answer, students can see if they answered it correctly. If the activity required a subjective response, students are exposed to responses that are different than the ones they wrote.


In my classroom, students read, write, speak, and listen all within the first five to ten minutes of class. This opens them up and prepares them for the day’s lesson. How do you use bell-ringers in your classroom?

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