How I use the bell ringer/warm up activities in S-Cubed Middle SchoolSight Singing Program

The S-Cubed Bundles ("How to Teach Sight Singing to Middle School Beginners") have been up on the web on my store and ready for use since mid-April 2014.  I am so excited that teachers are finding the lessons and studying them to use in their classrooms.

I am hearing from teachers that S-Cubed is helping them with their classroom management too.  That is GREAT news!

One of the specific questions I have gotten from several teachers is related to the "Bell Ringer" or "Warm Up" activities that I use to begin each of the 10-15 minute sight singing lessons in S-Cubed.  Here is what the teachers ask with panic in the tone of the emails I receive...."Do you grade all of those?!?"  :)

The short answer is no.  With 300 students, it isn't possible.

Once I say no, the question becomes, "How do you hold them accountable and keep them doing it?"

Before I launch into the details, keep in mind that the "Written Warm Up" can be an "Oral Warm Up" instead.  That's why I call them "Written/Oral Warm Up".  Every teacher has unique situations, so you have to decide what works best for you in your situation.

I like to have my students write the warm ups and keep them inside their folders.

Here are the requirements of the folder:

1)  My students are required to keep the written warm ups inside their folder.
2)  They are required to label each warm up (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc.).
3)  They are required to keep the warm ups in sequence so that I can easily locate specific warm ups.
4)  They are required to either write the full question and answer OR they must write the answer in a complete sentence in such a way that their parents would understand what they were answering if they picked up their folders to see what they were doing in Chorus.  Occasionally, I will announce to the students that I am exempting them from the "full question/answer" rule to save time, but the general requirement is as stated above.  I teach the process early in the year.  Sixth graders are slower at writing than eighth graders, so keep that in mind.

Here is how I hold them accountable for the work:

1)  Daily, I walk around the room and look at their work while they complete the warm up activity. With classes of 84 children, I can't get to everyone everyday, so I mix it up.  I place stickers on their work ("Good Job", etc.) when they are following procedures and starting the work immediately upon entering the room.  They LOVE stickers.  It helps them start work fast, and it encourages them to do it the right way (complete sentences or question/answer).  I use the candy "Starbursts" to reward students for doing good things.  Once they get 3 stickers, they get to go to the Starburst bucket and get a Starburst.  The stickers allow me to keep track of which students I've checked more easily.
2)  The second piece of the puzzle is "Random Folder Checks".  The key is "Random"...but to be quite frank, it isn't always random.  About once or twice weekly, I put a list of children's names on the board by class period.  I pick about 2-3 children per class.  Those children have to turn in their folder for the "Random Folder Check".  They leave it on my desk.  I have a trustworthy student "checker" do a preliminary check using a rubric.  I pick a student "checker" early in the year for each of my classes, and I train them how to check the folders.  If the folder gets a "100" from the student, I place the folders in a bin for pickup the next day after I enter the grade.  I may give it a quick look and write a comment or two.  If my student helper gives less than 100, I go through and grade it carefully and write comments in detail.

The rubric has these values assigned:
Folder Rubric

1)  Is the folder in sequence (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3...)?  20 points
2)  Did the student write either the question/answer or a complete sentence that is easy to understand?  20 points.
3)  Is the folder missing any warm ups?  20 points.
4)  Does the student have his/her name on the outside of the folder and his/her class period on the outside of the folder?  20 points
5)  Did the student turn the folder in on the day it was requested?  20 points
If the student doesn't have the folder the first day it's requested, the student gets a "one day grace period", but the student will automatically lose 20 points.  In other words, if the folder is late by one day, the maximum grade is an 80.  The folder isn't accepted two days after the original request was made, and a zero is given.  The teacher will not remind the student.  The student must keep the rubric inside his/her folder all school year for each check.

Total Points_________________________
Date of the Folder Check______________

I give every student a copy of this rubric during the first week of school when I am going over my classroom procedures.  Once the folder is graded, the student checker will put a new, blank rubric inside the folder for future checks.   

Early in the school year, before I know the students well, I randomly pick the students I want to check.  I simply pick names from my roll book.  As I get to know them, I pick the students who are "dropping the ball".  Perhaps I've noticed that they aren't doing their warm ups.  Or perhaps I've noticed they aren't bringing their folders to class.  Or maybe I've got a student who is absent a lot, and I want to see if he is getting the warm ups from his peers as I've instructed him to do. 

Random folder checks can occur at any time, any day and for any reason, but I try to do at least one per week, and I make a big deal out of announcing it.   I "unveil" the list on my SmartBoard in dramatic fashion.  I make sure everyone sees that I am doing it.  I make the children who are being checked walk it up to my desk to turn it in.  The atmosphere isn't punitive in any way, but I make sure everyone sees the process happen...especially early in the year.

Having the students keep a folder is a great way to document the work of the children.  I have found it to be a great visual tool for parent conferences as well.  So often in chorus, grading can be subjective.  This evidence-based document speaks volumes about the work of the child in your classroom.

Back to School is quickly approaching!!!  One year ago, I began this journey of documenting my sight singing program in Power Points, on this blog and on video to share with other teachers. This year, the program is fully complete, and I am hoping lots of teachers find it.  I spent thousands of hours putting it together, and I truly believe it can help teachers in so many ways that have nothing to do with sight singing!  Please let your peers and your district directors know about this resource!  I start with the program from Day 1 with my students.  So, I altered the cover for the Back to School Season!  

Thank you for your support, comments and ratings on TPT!  Please Google +1 all of my products!  It helps get the word out online!

Check out my blog!


  1. There are the better opinions have been cited above with ease and probabilities and we would be able to grant more of the sufficient details in this regard. how to write a capstone project

  2. There are even the better prospects have been contemplated and will proved to be much better for the students to try herewith. do my history homework