Because of pressure to teach bell-to-bell -- the pedagogical equivalent of force-feeding geese to make foie gras -- many classrooms now start with bell work, short exercises that students complete while the instructor attends to attendance and other administrative chores. Journal prompts and concept questions can focus students on nutritious academic content and initiate a positive tempo for the next 90 minutes of class.
With the help of graduate student David Fictum, I collected several creative, practical and entertaining exercises that can function as bell ringers or sponge activities. Here they are: (Todd Finley at Edutopia)
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While the activities Finley highlights are directed at students, some of them could be used as writing prompts and activities for teachers themselves.