Should I grade bell work?

[PLUS Bell work shortcuts!]

You’ve decided to take the leap in establishing bell work into your class routine. Great! Bell work is one of the most important ways to start your class period off on the right foot. But how will you get your students to take their bellwork seriously? Do you establish it as a graded assignment in your classroom? 

We’ll dive into whether or not you should grade bellwork and also give you some bellwork shortcuts.

grade bell work

What is bell work?

Bellwork goes by many names: Question of the day, bell ringers, and warm-ups. But the purpose is all the same.

Bellwork is a short assignment that students complete during the first five minutes of class. 

How is bell work important for students and teachers?

For students, bellwork settles the class and gets them into the right mindset. Students start class off more focused and ready to learn. Bell work also is an excellent opportunity for students to practice and review materials that will make them more successful for their lessons. 

Bell work also helps teachers. Teachers will have time to take attendance, pass back papers, and talk to individuals in a calm classroom environment. Bellwork is a crucial classroom management tool. 

What makes bell work successful?

  • Consistency: Establishing a consistent routine makes bellwork successful. Students know and understand the flow of class every day they walk in the door. It becomes a habit. 
  • Practice: Fostering a growth mindset in the classroom can be tough when students get so focused on grades. Bellwork is the perfect time to take academic risks and practice new skills. Model the true purpose of bellwork, so our students seek the value. 
  • Accountability: Bell work is most successful when students are held accountable for their work. This doesn’t always mean bellwork is graded (but it can be).

Should I grade bell work?

Just like anything in a real-world classroom, the answer is nuanced. Traditional education research tends to say not to grade bellwork because it functions as a formative assessment, and formative assessment is not for grading. But the reality is that some formative assessments, like bellwork, need to be graded. Here are some things to consider while determining your grading policies for bellwork:

  • Grades cause students to think their work is good enough, so consider creating a way for students to improve bellwork so they can practice honing skills. 
  • Encourage academic risks by making bellwork low value
  • Don’t completely limit grades because grades are a powerful classroom management asset. But look at what grade weight motivates your students most.

What are ways to grade bell work?

There are several ways to grade bellwork. Here are some ways to grade bellwork (and keep your sanity!).

Don't grade every day

It can feel overwhelming to grade bellwork every day. But you can take up bellwork once a week and grade a week’s worth of bellwork. You can make this process a little easier by having a bellwork worksheet that you use every week to keep all of your student’s bellwork more organized.

Peer grading

Peer grading is a powerful teaching tool that can reduce grading for you. Peer grading allows students to see how other students approached a problem, and it allows students to correct peer work using their own language. This makes concepts more approachable to students. 

Stamp method

Many teachers combine the weekly bellwork grading with the stamp method. With the stamp method, teachers stamp student answers to bellwork daily. This signifies that students participated in bellwork. They get points for this. Then teachers will grade for accuracy weekly. Students receive grades from two sources this way. 

Auto-grading using online worksheets

One way to solve your bellwork grading woes is to switch to digital worksheets with auto-grading functionality. TeacherMade makes it easy to create short and simple assignments that you can auto-grade. It frees up a lot of time for teachers, and you get instant feedback that informs daily lessons. 

Bell work shortcuts to save you time

The best way to save time in the 2022- 2023 school year is by simplifying tasks you do daily in your classroom, like bell work. 

Use what you have

Stop reinventing the wheel. Take assignments and resources that you already have and split them into smaller pieces. You can use a larger assignment for an entire week of bell work. 

Use test prep materials

Stop doing long and drawn-out review periods before big standardized tests. Instead, review a little at a time. Take state test prep materials and use them for source material. Take a few questions at a time and use this as a weekly review time for bellwork. The material will stay fresh on your student’s minds with consistent practice. 

Digitize bell work

Paper bell work can get hard to manage. Use TeacherMade to digitize your bell work. With TeacherMade, it’s simple to convert materials you already have and make online bellwork.

  • Step 1: Upload your file to TeacherMade (PDFs, images, and Docx files all work). Your file becomes the background of your online assignment.
  • Step 2: Add question fields to any part of your document.
  • Step 3: Add your answer key for auto-scoring.
  • Step 4: Place a link to the bellwork in your LMS platform like Google Classroom.

Set up for auto-grading

We recommend online bell work so that you can also utilize auto-grading. Auto-grading saves you time but also allows your bellwork to give you instant feedback. As soon as students complete their bellwork, you instantly know what questions caused struggle. You can emphasize these points in your lesson.

Get started with TeacherMade today and see how thousands of teachers are saving time in the classroom.