This school year I am doing something I have never done in the 30 something years I have been in education. I am teaching only one subject! You would think that this would simplify my life and make things much easier. In some ways that is true and in others it is not. I find not having the same students all day makes it more difficult to create meaningful relationships with each of them. Without meaningful relationships reaching and teaching students is difficult! Time, that old enemy. We can’t get enough and yet so many times we can’t wait for it to pass quickly!
With this in mind I am constantly looking for ways to stream line procedures in an effort to create more teaching and connecting time with my students. Each of my five classes, grades 6-8, engage in daily instructional routines. We use these routines as bell ringers as they are low threshold, high ceiling activities designed to promote critical thinking, number sense, problem solving, communication skills and the joint construction of knowledge. At the beginning of the year I was finding that the logistics of these routines was taking up valuable time therefore, I created a Google Slide Presentation that I embed in my lesson plans on http://www.planbook.com as well as a bell ringer form that students record their thinking and work on. Since students are familiar with the routines they come into class, pick up their bell ringer form and begin thinking and working together on the routine that is projected on my interactive white board while I greet students and post attendance. Not only has this form aided in creating more time for connecting and teaching, it has helped students stay more organized. I am also finding that that more bell work is being turned in than before!