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The purpose of a bell ringer activity can be to pre-assess students’ knowledge or to review already taught skills. In this lesson you will be introduced to five different bell ringers for use in a social-studies/history classroom.

Social Studies Bell Ringers

In an average school day, students will move between 5 to 7 different classrooms, teachers, and subjects. Usually there is about a five minute time gap for students to travel from one room to the other. Some students arrive almost immediately, while others seem to just barely make it before the bell (or after, in some cases).

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To get students ready to begin thinking and working on a fresh subject, and to provide students with an immediate task once they walk into the room (whenever that is), it is good practice to provide a brief 5 minute activity. These short activities are called bell ringers. They are called this because they usually occur around the time the bell will ring to signal the start of class. You may have also heard them called warm-ups as they function as activities to help ‘warm-up’ the brain. In this lesson you will be introduced to five different bell ringer activities that function as review/study practice, possible pre-assessment, and standardized test practice.

Reading Investigations

Just as toddlers learn best by doing and finding out for themselves, students in school can learn well by acquiring the knowledge on their own. Reading Investigations are reading activities that allow students to find out the information for themselves. This type of activity gives the students a sense of ownership over the newly discovered information.To use a reading investigation to introduce a new topic, in a social studies class, give each of your students the main ideas for what the class is about to study (2-4 main ideas). Assign each student a brief text that covers the new information. This is a good place to differentiate the types of text based on a student’s individual reading ability.

Allow students 5-10 minutes to read and find as much as they can for each topic and record their findings. Use the information that they found to kick off a discussion about the new topic.

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