Using Switch Energy with “Bell ringers” in an AP Environmental Science class

Chris Hill  ·  SEA Teacher Advisory Council
Wed, June 8, 2022

One of the biggest challenges that any teacher can face is getting students to settle down and focus at the beginning of class. One way to address this is through the use of bell ringer activities.


A bell ringer activity could consist of a question, small activity, or a problem that is displayed on the board when your students enter the classroom. One of the practices I have used over the past few years is incorporating “current event bell ringers” into my A.P. Environmental Science daily curriculum. For example, when a current event such as this pops up, I might not be at the point of the year when I have covered wind energy topics. This is where the Switch Energy curriculum comes in! 


After providing some guiding prompts for discussion, I would have the entire class watch the Wind Primer and then discuss the pros/cons of wind listed by Dr. Tinker. I teach in a school that uses block scheduling, so I can afford to spend about 10-15 minutes on bell ringers. Depending on the length of your classes, you could adjust the time spent in the post video discussion. 


Another example of a case where I would use the Switch Energy curriculum is after showing this bell ringer article. If I wasn’t at a place in my curriculum where I had covered solar power, I would show How Solar Works and then have them try the solar panel design and analysis activity in the remaining 7 or 8 minutes. The beauty of the Switch Energy curriculum is that you can customize assignments depending on your time limitations. 


A final example of a bell ringer is using some of the math problems provided by the Switch Energy curriculum. One thing that my A.P. students struggle with are the energy conversions required for some of the A.P.E.S. math FRQ questions. I could display this Home Efficiency FRQ and use one of the parts of the question as one bell ringer. In fact, each individual question in this FRQ could be used for a week (5 or more classes) of bell ringers. Another benefit of using the Switch Energy curriculum is that the answers are provided for immediate feedback to the students. A bonus for busy teachers!

The next time you are struggling with classroom management at the start of class, try using bell ringers with the help of the Switch Energy curriculum!!


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