During our virtual discussions with our Teacher Ambassador’s this fall, we discussed one of the most common misconceptions about Learnics - that Learnics is only for long-term web research projects. While Learnics supports students during the process of Internet research, Learnics-enabled assignments do not have to strictly be used on long research activities. They can also be used for quick and easy Bell Ringer activities that provide teachers with formative data about student learning. As Matt Miller writes, digital bell ringers are wonderful tools to “spark interest and hook students into a lesson” to “meet students in the first moments of class with something that intrigues them and makes them want to dive deeper into the day’s work.” Using the internet and a Learnics-enabled short 5-10 minute assignment can meaningfully engage students during the first few minutes of class by using student-issued devices, and can center students around a key question or image, providing an interesting hook to the lesson. The data generated by just 5-10 minutes can be used as part of a whole class discussion as well as for formative assessment.
Digital bell ringers are wonderful tools to “spark interest and hook students into a lesson” to “meet students in the first moments of class with something that intrigues them and makes them want to dive deeper into the day’s work.” - Matt Miller
Learnics-enabled bell ringer assignments allow a teacher to specifically focus on the behaviors that they want their students to demonstrate. Those behaviors may be searching the internet for a specific topic or accessing an assignment website.
The first few minutes of class are often the most chaotic. With Learnics Bell RIngers, teachers ensure that their kids are on-task and engaged by knowing exactly what the students are doing online.
Bell rings are often not meant to be substantial grades in the gradebook. They are meant to get student attention and get them engaged. They also inform teachers about the progress of student learning. Learnics assignments allow teachers to assess the types of questions that students are searching online and assess their level of understanding.
Below are a few great examples of Learnics Bell Ringers. Try them out in your classroom and if you have any new ideas, share them with us to receive a free Learnics Shirt!
Google It- Ask students to take 5 minutes and Google one question that they had about the previous lesson (or the upcoming lesson). This would allow students to potentially find the answer to their question and provide formative feedback to the teacher about what questions students may have.
Beyond Definitions - Instead of just defining a word, ask students to find examples of the word on a webpage or find a photo that represents the word.
Timed Reading - Students are given time to read blogs or articles of their choice (or teacher provided) online. The Learnics Data shows that they did it and what they read.
Quick Research - Students are given a new topic and asked to spend 5 minutes learning all that they can about it. Then start the class by asking each student, or a selection of students, to share an interesting fact they found. Learnics data confirms they did the research and provides information about what students looked up and what websites they visited.
5 Whys - Students are given a topic as a starting point then asked to delve deeper into that topic by Googling 5 “Whys” related to it.
5 Essential Questions - Start by showing this compelling 7 minute excerpt from Dean Ryan’s commencement speech, “5 Essential Questions in Life”. Then have students use some of the 5 essential questions to learn more about a topic you have recently taught or will teach. Questions include: I wonder if? I wonder why? I wonder how? I wonder when? How can I help?
Quick Journal or Blog - Students are asked to write in a journal or make a blog post. Learnics verifies that they did it and where they did it. If you need student journal prompts, here is an extensive list from the New York Times
Mini Debate - Take a topic related to your day’s lesson and assign half the class to one side and the other half to the other. Ask them to spend 5 minutes researching and be ready to share their top 2 arguments. Learnics data confirms they did the research and provides information about what students looked up and what websites they visited.
Media Filter Bubbles? - Have all students google the exact same question or phrase and then ask students to share the source of their top hit. This helps students see that even their searches are often filtered to align with their browsing preferences. Students could then look at their top 2 sites and compare and contrast their results with their partner’s results. This is a good start to a mini news literacy lesson.