Bellwork and IEPs: Everything you need to know to do bell ringers with accommodations

Are you struggling to get your students with IEPs settled into a bellwork routine? Bell work helps every student. But your students with IEPs especially need bell work. We’ll explain why your SPED students need bell work and how to implement accommodations into this crucial part of your classroom.

We’ll also explain how you can use TeacherMade to make online bellwork to free up time for you, help your students with accommodations, and simplify classroom procedures.

Bellwork and IEPs

What is bellwork?

Bellwork is the assignment students do as they begin class. It has many purposes:

  • Settles students and gets them ready to work
  • Review material to help with a current lesson or future assessments
  • Gives teachers time to complete administrative tasks or talk to students one-on-one

Benefits of bellwork for students with IEP

All students benefit from bell work, but special ed students especially do. Think back to your school’s class change time. Students are jostled in the hall, they need to use the restroom, and their lockers are always jammed. You can’t forget the substantial social interactions that occur: disagreements, crushes, breakups, and good times with friends. It’s hard to switch gears when they walk in the door. It’s tough if a student also has learning difficulties to contend with. 

Here are a few ways that sped students in the classroom benefit from bell work.


Bellwork brings consistency to your class. Students can depend on a set schedule in your classroom. When they rely on you for this, they feel safer as soon as they walk through the door. Predictability and routine are crucial for students with IEPs because they bring additional anxieties to school.

You can create consistency by batching bell work with your lesson plans. Don’t wait until the last second to plan bell work. This is the best way to establish a consistent bell work routine in your classroom.

Clear expectations

Give your students clear expectations, so they know how to handle bellwork in your classroom. Be sure to answer some key questions, so students know what to expect:

  • How will you grade bell work?
  • When will bellwork be collected?

If you intend to grade bell work, tell your students this. Never make grades a surprise. If it feels overwhelming to grade bellwork daily, automate with TeacherMade’s auto-scoring with digital bellwork.


Once you have established a consistent bell work routine and clear expectations, accountability is the final step for setting boundaries for your students. Accountability in your classroom comes in the form of grades. 

Grades don’t have to be stressful for your students. If students know you will grade an assignment, it becomes manageable. Your bell work assignments should never be difficult, and they should be a relief to students who need to review and can receive a good grade for putting in the work. Remember, creating boundaries should help your students feel safe.

Meaningful practice that activates knowledge

Respect all of your students by selecting meaningful practice that activates knowledge. Explain to your student that all knowledge builds, and it is essential to practice skills to build on new knowledge. 

How do I modify bell work for sped students and accommodations?

There are three primary ways to modify bellwork for sped students who require accommodations under their IEP. We’ll explain how to do this using digital tools.

Reduce workload

It can be tough to reduce the workload with bellwork. Bell ringers are already relatively short. You can’t just assign even-numbered problems as you do for homework. 

But you can make dual assignments (especially if you’re assigning them digitally) with fewer questions.

Modify content

With digital tools like TeacherMade, you can make alternative assignments and discreetly assign them to students who need accommodations by emailing students directly. If everyone is doing the bellwork online, then the process is streamlined. 

You can even involve your co-teacher or SPED teacher with modifications with our Co-teacher Feature. We give you the option to share and collaborate with digital assignments so that you can assign the right level of work to your students.

Provide support

You can provide aides on your bellwork that help with accommodations. You can add read-along tools, multimedia, and audio instructions with digital bellwork. Your students can utilize digital tools to help them complete their assignments. 

You can also give students extra time to complete bell work because students can complete digital bell work anytime.

Use TeacherMade for accommodation and co-teaching for students with IEPs

With TeacherMade, you can digitize your bell work so that you can cut down on your workload. Digitize the bellwork questions you already use, assign them to your LMS platform like Google Classroom, and use auto-scoring for quick results.

You can even help your co-teachers and special ed teachers with accommodations. With our Co-Teacher Feature, you can bring SPED teachers into action with collaboration. They can modify any assignment for accommodations and IEPs. 

With inclusion, teachers must do the same work as grade-level students, only leveled. Make alternate versions of materials quickly. TeacherMade is perfect for this.