Teaching "Bell-to-Bell"

Discussion in 'General Education' started by leeshis0019, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Mar 17, 2015

    So teaching Chemistry and my lesson's are designed as "Bell to bell" lessons. 90 minutes (block schedule) meet every day a week. I generally do Warmup -> Discussion -> (any notes) -> Practice -> Check for understanding/Closure.


    Admin. has been observing (they didn't say anyone's class specifically) that bell-to-bell teaching is not really happening. They see students off-task, talking about something other than content, on their cellphones, etc. This happens in my room and if I catch them I politely ask them to get to work and I [mostly] get a positive response.


    I hear "well maybe your lessons aren't engaging enough" all the time, but I actively work to make them engaging--the kids are working on it, but they multitask like crazies!


    Anyone have any methods of cutting down on this? I've observed others at my school and seen classes that look almost exactly like mine and other that are extremely regimented (which is what I think admin. likes). That is not me. I'm relaxed. Regimented me would fail horribly.


    edit: I want to mention that I've seen some ideas, but they seem like they are more oriented towards small class sizes of about 20. I have one class of 17 that is just magnificent. I can easily keep them on task and they enjoy the discussion partly because the class is so small (they have told me this). Then I have classes of 32 which is harder to maintain if I want to maintain my sanity.

    One idea I saw had something like "teach 15 minutes only and call on ALL students during that time to hold them all accountable". Well...sure--call on all 30+ students each taking variable amounts of time to respond can really cut into it. Not to mention my high-achievers that would rather just get to work (and they do).
     
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  3. cafekarma

    cafekarma Rookie

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    Mar 17, 2015

    Regimented is absolutely not me, either. I'm very relaxed. BUT when I started operating on a tight and strict schedule, productivity skyrocketed in my room. I learned that my style wasn't the best way for my classroom. This may not be true for you, but don't rule out the possibility.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Mar 18, 2015

    Teaching bell-to-bell (how you describe it anyway) would be challenging for us and we only have a 50 minute period. I couldn't imagine doing it for 90 minutes.

    I'm not even sure the students could handle it. I have friends who teach High School and they give students 10 minute breaks during their 90 minute periods, because the kids just can't be that engaged and on for that long without a break.

    You probably do need to make your admin happy, but don't do something that you know won't work for your class. I'm a very organized person, and I need to have (loose) control on things at all times. I have systems for everything.

    The teacher next door just walks in, has kids pull out paper, and they take notes while he lectures. Then he'll just do an impromptu lab and they'll collect their data free form.

    I can't work that way (maybe I don't have enough experience). I need to feel prepared, and be organized. I have graphic organizers, formal lab write-ups, and cornell note sheets for everything. But that's me, and he is him.
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Mar 18, 2015

    It is easier with some populations of students than others, for sure.

    I have a rule that students owe me time for each minute they quit before the bell rings. This works usually.

    My school loves to be on "silent bells", though. It is very difficult to teach bell to bell when there is one. The last two minutes are filled with students trying to show me what time it is. @@
     
  6. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Mar 18, 2015

    Teaching HS kids "bell to bell" wasn't that difficult on a 50 minute schedule. (In fact, I always felt like there wasn't enough time).

    However, we switched to block (which I love) and you are correct - the concept of "bell to bell' is much less necessary (or desirable imo) under a 90 minute schedule. With that being said, I feel like the students get more out of a 90 minute class than a more structured, rigid "bell to bell" 50 minute class. Evidence is anecdotal, I have no EOC test data to support my theory., just what I see and observe on actual quiz and test scores.

    Unfortunately, this is of no help to the OP who is required by admin to do such.
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 18, 2015

    For those of you on block schedules, how many periods do you teach per day? Do kids have a break between blocks? I teach three 100-min blocks per day, with a 15-min break between the two am blocks, then a 45-min lunch, followed by one pm block. I try to break my block down into five 20-minute segments, with longer stretches if students are working on projects or longer assignments. I find holding their attention for more than 20 minutes is hard, but it works if I switch things up enough. It is completely exhausting teaching three 100-min classes in a row, though!

    If I end up with extra time, I play a game, a song, or start on the reading/HW for next class. The times I do get stuck with a few awkward minutes are when we have Chromebooks out or materials to pack up, so I end 5 mins early, and then if it all gets put away quickly, I am sometimes left with a few minutes and it feels forced to add something at the last second. I usually don't stress about a few moments as long as I have achieved my goals for the day and the students have earned the time by working hard.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Mar 18, 2015

    I also teach an 80 minute period, and some days, especially when the kids are writing or reading, the kids will occassionally get distracted and pull out their cellphones. Like you, I correct when I see it and ask them to get back on task. What gets me, though, is how counterintuitive and unnatural that is. I mean, how many teachers/adminstrators do you think would really sit in four 80 minute meetings every day and always be fully engaged... It's ridiculous to expect that of children. Why isn't it okay to take a mental break for a few minutes? But that doesn't help you... lol.

    I keep a handful of activities on hand for when we have a few minutes of downtime or I'm transitioning between activities. Here's a great list of ideas to give you some ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/231583605811785256/
     
  9. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 18, 2015

    Bandnerd,
    Thanks for the pin! I sat through a staff meeting yesterday where I felt exactly like a student. We were subjected to a 20-min powerpoint on something that was not directly relevant to our work with the teeny-tiniest of fonts, followed by a 7-min youtube video, followed by an "activity" (the speaker's word for it) on our laptops. Meanwhile, I was sitting there mentally going through my to-do list: emails to send, grades to enter, lessons to plan...it was torture!! I practically had to sit on my hands not to multi-task and gave in at the end.

    Experiences like this make me think about what it's like to be a student in block classes. They need a chance to move, to talk to their partners, and *gasp* maybe even a reason to take out their phones for a moment (to be used in the lesson, but if a 10-second status check occurs, fine). I try to keep this in mind when I plan lessons as much as possible.
     
  10. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Mar 18, 2015

    I currently teach on a 50 minute schedule, but I still try very hard not to lecture over 15 or 20 minutes. Also, before I lecture I have all the kids stand up and move around. Especially the early morning classes or if anyone is putting their head down. I have the kids speak to other classmates, talk about their weekend, then walk back and forth across the classroom doing different exercises. A lot of them groan when I'm like "okay everyone stand up and push in your chair!" but it is 100% effective. Kids are always more alert and attentive after having them move around a little.
     

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