being a teacher, student driven, Student-centered

Keep the Focus as the Break Nears

We are all a little antsy and just a little busy as the holidays draw nearer.  To keep the focus in school and still have some fun here are some things we have been doing in my room.

  • Start a lunch time book club.  All three 5th grade teachers did this so that the students had some choice in book.  We meet once a week to eat and discuss the latest chapters.  I love the extra connections being created between classes.
  • Get up and move.  We have increased our dance breaks as the break gets closer.  Except now we tend to listen to holiday music from around the world, nothing like “Julebal i Nisseland” to get their bodies moving.
  • Participate in something global.  we are doing the holiday card exchange this year and the students are so excited to see the mail we are getting.  They are also learning about other parts of the country and world through the letters. The cost: 30 stamps!
  • Take the time to appreciate.  We don’t have a lot of time but I try to tell the kids either face-to-face or via post it note how much I appreciate specific things about them.  It starts a wave of appreciation which boosts morale.
  • Keep busy.  The less we have to do, the more we can focus on the upcming break.  So we keep working to reach our deadlines and the reward is no homework over break.
  • Mix it up.  Our schedule has been a little more flexible to fit our moods more these weeks.  So if the kids are super antsy we get out of our seats and learn in a different way.  This is not the time to force them them to sit still and listen (is it ever?).
  • Have some fun.  I love to show educational videos when we have minutes left at the end of the day or during transitions.  This week we started watching crack us up videos as well to get us in the spirit.  George Couros shared this video to my students’ delight.
  • Relax – it might not all get done.  Teachers seem to get more controlling and more frantic the closer break gets.  The exact opposite should happen.  get excited with the kids, set the tempo and then have some fun.  Learning is meant to be fun, so do your part.
  • Let them choose.  Buy in is much larger when the students get choice.  I scrapped my original social studies project this week so that the kids could work on something of their choice.  They get to work right away and stay focused through the whole period.

What do you do to keep students working and have some fun?

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