Do you use warm-ups or bell ringers in your classroom? Check out this post for 5 reasons why you will absolutely love them!
First, let’s talk about what a warm-up is. They go by many names including bell ringer, spiral review, introduction activity, and more. Overall, warm-ups are a quick way to get class started and provide a little structure in your day.
Warm-ups are useful in any content area and can take on just about any purpose.
Warm-Ups Provide Structure
Students love routine. Let’s be honest, we all thrive on routine.
By beginning your content block with a warm-up, you are providing students with a predictable structure they can look forward to. It doesn’t even matter what your warm-up activity is, only that it is expected to happen.
Taking the first five minutes of class for a predictable activity signals students’ brains they are in a known space.
Warm-Ups Set Expectations
Along with providing structure, warm-up activities are a great way to brush up on expectations. After all, since you begin your content block with them, it is the perfect opportunity to set the tone.
In fact, I have often encouraged students to work together and chat about their warm-ups. This comes with the expectation that their conversation is about the content. Additionally, this provides for a “softer” start to the class, which students enjoy.
Warm-Ups Can Keep a Record of Learning
While a bell ringer can come in many different forms or ideas, most are going to be framed around review. I would like to make a plea for them to be spiral review.
My favorite warm-up activities revisit concepts from throughout the school year to keep them all fresh in students’ minds. In fact, I also preview upcoming content during warm-ups. This gives students a chance to try their hand at the ideas before being explicitly taught More on this below.
When you use an activity that involves a spiral review, it can be kept as a record of learning throughout the year. This comes in handy when setting student goals, reviewing progress, and meeting with families and other teachers to discuss the student’s work.
Warm-Ups Provide Easy Data Collection
Adding to the previous assertion, warm-ups also make for easy data collection. A short and sweet warm-up of two to four questions a day can be graphed by the student or teacher and used to log growth, as well as areas that need improvement.
Since this is already an activity that is being completed each day, it alleviates the stress of additional data collection assessments.
Warm-Ups Allow for Risk Taking
Earlier in the post, when I was discussing warm-ups as a record for learning I wrote about the idea of previewing new concepts before explicitly teaching them. I want to share a bit more about that here.
Bell ringer activities are a great place for students to try something new. This is because the very nature of warm-ups means you will be going over the questions together. You may be using student responses to track data, but they are not being graded in a way that would penalize students for trying something new.
This opportunity to take a risk and work on new material leads to student growth and builds their ability to try difficult things.
Why You Should Love Warm-Ups
What’s not to love about warm-ups?
In the end, no matter what you call them, these quick starter activities allow you to provide structure for your students, set the tone and expectations for the class, keep a record of learning while providing an opportunity for data collection, and encourage students to take safe risks.
Ready to start a warm-up routine in your classroom? Check out the links below for yearlong spiral activities.