An opening routine at the beginning of class is important since we need to take attendance, work with absent students, and find pencils. "Do-Nows", "Bellwork", and "Bellringers" are some of the terms used for routines that immediately engage students as they enter class. They help to create the atmosphere to prepare students to learn, e.g. quiet, focused, and working on standards.
On Monday, each student receives a bellwork sheet. Each day, upon entering class throughout the week, the student completes the daily bellwork activity found on the whiteboard, screen, or overhead. My activities may include "fill ins", drawing a vocabulary word, or analyzing a picture or statement. At the end of the week the sheet is submitted for a participation grade, and it is returned the following Monday.
Be patient. All routines require time for students to master, but within two weeks my classes have this routine down.
This product is the result of years of revision and refinement. My colleagues have found the form helpful, too. Your purchase includes 6 pages (one for each quarter, 1 generic) and an example of a completed and corrected bellwork sheet.
Have students circle the quarter, and the week within the quarter. This helps them to know where they are in the grading process, too. My guiding question for the week is posted on the board, and there is a place on the form to include it. You will find that many students will make the bellwork sheet their own by coloring, marking, taking notes, etc. Extra credit and awesome stickers are given for going the extra distance, super neat, or detailed.
It is important for students to completely fill out the form. It helps establish a routine. If someone is absent, they get the bellwork from a friend, or see me after school. If there was a snow day, they write "snow day". Guidelines are on the bottom of the form. If more room than the daily box is required, students attach a dated notebook page.
Last, if a student doesn't complete their bellwork as expected, and a parent is contacted, the conversation starts with class participation and the effort being made with bellwork. The conversation can continue from there but the parent has 1 concrete item. If a conference is held, I bring the student's bellwork (or a blank copy if the student is not completing their work).
Last note, I include the week's homework on the back of the form. This way the parent can monitor their child's effort every day, and completion of homework at night. I collect the homework on Friday, too.