“What can you implement in your classes that can review content, establish a foundation for the day’s topic, encourage student participation, and get students prepared for the day’s activities? Whether you call them starter activities, bell work, or focusing activities, a predictable, formatted, content-based beginning of class activity can be used to achieve these goals,” writes Laura Schisler, PhD, assistant professor in the teacher education department at Missouri Southern State University, in a recent Faculty Focus piece.
In the article, Schisler outlines some ways to format beginning of class activities that allow for flexibility and growth. Studies have shown that beginning of class activities can gain student attention, provide accountability, review material, engage with new content, or establish routines and provide structure, she notes in the article, so incorporating in class can only benefit students.
Schisler provides her students with a printed beginning activity sheet for each class session with tailored prompts for that course. The prompts cover different learning goals, which may include reviewing material, reflecting on their own experiences and tying in the material, or encouraging movement in the classroom.
The last section of the activity covers what students should have out (e.g. laptops, a previous assignment) so no time is wasted.
Schisler also offers references and links to examples to help instructors plan their own beginner activities.
“I hope the use of the beginning activity adds predictability to the beginning of my classes, encourages learning from the beginning of each class session, and provides students a structured review to supplement their own notes to prepare for our course final,” Schisler writes.