Monday, February 26, 2018

Ancient History Bell Ringers

If you're anything like me, you want to find interesting ways to engage your students right when they walk into your classroom.

When establishing my classroom routine at the beginning of the school year, I find that bell ringers are the perfect way to bridge the gap between transition times (movement between classes) and the start of our class activities. 

In my mind, a bell ringer should be relatively simple - a question or series of questions that prompts students to recall recent content, utilize previously learned skills to apply them to a new question or encourage them to think critically about a topic we've studied in class. I also want to ensure that the bell ringers are novel, engaging, yet consistent on a week-by-week basis. Whew! That's a tall order!

In my quest to create such engaging, novel and consistent bell ringers for Ancient History classes, I decided on five different topics: Map Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, Vocabulary Terms, Quote of the Day and Growth Mindset. Thus, the Ancient History Bell Ringers resource was born!

All of these resources are available in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. Let's dive in!

The purpose of the Map Skills Bell Ringers is to reinforce the map concepts that you've taught your students in class on particular ancient regions or even to be used to introduce the location of a region for the first time. I've used it both ways. If my students have completed a mapping activity the day or two before, I like to start class the next day with one of these bell ringers as a review. I've also used them on the first day of a new unit to encourage students to dive into our classroom resources to identify major land and water features on a map of the ancient civilization. Not all questions are map identification skills-based. Many others prompt students to think critically about the geography of a region and the impact the land had on the people who lived there.  

The Ancient History Vocabulary Bell Ringers are the perfect companion to the Ancient History Interactive Notebooks as they use key terms chosen from the concepts covered in the INBs! Of course, the vocabulary words aren't specific to those INBs and are based on typical concepts covered in Ancient Civilizations courses in middle school and can be used separately from them. On the days that I use these slides to introduce new vocabulary, students use the corresponding activity sheets to write the definition of the vocabulary word in their own words, draw a picture or symbol to represent the word and use the term in an original sentence. The more access and use students have of these new terms, the better they'll be able to grasp them and use them frequently within our unit.

There were some very interesting, thoughtful and wise people who lived in ancient times! Each of the slides in the Quote of the Day Bell Ringers resource has a quote from a historical figure in ancient times. I love choosing a person that lived during the time we are studying in school and asking the students the prompts on the slide: "What does this quote mean? Do you agree or disagree? How does this quote relate to an event in history or in your own life?" Students respond to each of the questions on their activity sheet for the day and keep it with their other bell ringer activity sheets in their binder. It's a simple activity that prompts students to think critically and deeply about a historical quote. It also gives them an opportunity to make a personal connection of use higher order thinking skills to link it to a particular event in history.

I LOVE critical thinking questions, don't you? Each slide in the Ancient History Think About It Bell Ringers resource poses a question that prompts students to think critically about a concept related to ancient civilizations. Some of my favorite questions are those that prompt students to imagine that they've traveled back in time to see or experience something. They love thinking about history as if it's alive around them! The response sheet for the days I use these questions asks them to summarize the question before responding. There's plenty of room on the response sheets for students to record their thoughts and I always ask some students to share their thoughts to the prompts.

As much as I love constantly engaging my students in historical content in new ways, I also value time spent on self-reflection and goal setting. The Growth Mindset Bell Ringers are a perfect way to end the week. Each slide prompts students to take a few minutes to reflect, write, make goals, problem-solve and track their growth throughout the year. 

Each of these activities includes 40 slides - enough for the entire school year! In the four that pertain the ancient civilizations, questions about the following regions are included: Early Humans, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Israelites, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, India, China and the Americas.

If these bell ringers look like the perfect addition to your classroom routine, consider saving some money and purchasing the bundle!

Happy Teaching!

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