In the Upper School, a bell is the signal to begin or end each class. A bell ringer, on the other hand, is an activity commonly used by teachers — Hillcrest’s faculty among them — at the start of a class. This brief assignment typically consists of a question, problem, or task to engage students when they first enter the classroom every day, with the goal of helping them get in the habit of being on task and prepared to learn immediately upon coming into class and settling in their seats. While the students complete their bell ringers, instructors often tend to administrative duties, such as taking attendance and passing out papers. Some teachers use bell ringers as a quick assessment to determine whether students are understanding the material taught or meeting learning goals; others assign bell ringers which discover what students know about a topic before it is taught; still other instructors use their bell ringer activities to review concepts which students may have forgotten. Teachers then individually decide if or how to grade the bell ringers they assign.
So, parents, if you see these activities listed among the assignments when you check your children’s grades, now you have an idea of what they are as well as of the purpose they serve. Bell ringers are yet another tool Hillcrest teachers use in order to provide meaningful instruction to our students and to maximize learning from bell to bell.