We all know it! That time of year is coming up and we all know how students behaviour can decline in the following weeks. But that doesn't mean your classroom can't function like it should, and students can't stay engaged! I'll share with you a few tips I kept up my sleeve to ensure my classroom ran smoothly right up to the last day!
Routine, routine, routine!
I am a stickler for a proper routine in my classroom. Students came in the classroom in the morning and immediately knew what to do. In my case, we did our Weekly Paragraph Writing. They got right to work and then afterwards, we'd start our literacy centres. I'll be working hard on this routine right from September, and ensuring that students stay focused and engaged right from the beginning makes a BIG difference come the holiday season!
You can read more about how I structure my classroom here and here.
I don't care what grade level you teach, students LOVE decorating the classroom! Plan some time in your schedule to have students help you decorate the classroom. Turn it into an art project, like this ornament here for big kids or this Christmas tree.
I personally planned this about two weeks before the end of the year, and always right the end of the day.
Add some holiday fun to your work!
Some ideas include:
- using holiday-themed task-cards in your math and literacy centres
- use holiday writing prompts
- plan a budget for buying Christmas presents
- build Santa Claus' workshop, using specified materials and while calculating the area and perimeter
- engage in friendly debates around holiday ideas, such as "Does Santa Claus exist", "Should children get more or less than 2 weeks off at Christmas", "Do kids get too many presents from Santa"
- read holidays stories
- write a letter to Santa Claus
- research how they celebrate the holidays in different countries and cultures
- research the origins of various holidays
- plan inquiry projects based around the holidays
This allows students to feel excited about the holidays coming up and makes them want to stay engaged and focused!
Plan some hands-on activities!
Students love getting nitty-gritty and hands on! Find some hands-on projects related to the subjects you are teaching now that allows them to move, get dirty, and learn all at the same time! These don't necessarily have to be holiday-based, it's simply a way to keep students entertained and engaged during this particular week!
Another idea would be to have more oral communication activities this week. Instead of trying to fight with students, go with what works! If they're "talkers", then let them talk! But do it while working a specific goal!
If you want to try your hand at literacy circles, December is a great month to start! Start with short stories or short novels (something that they can all read in 2-3 weeks) and plan weekly literacy circle meetings. This way, they can discuss what they're reading, chit chat about the book AND you're keeping it educational!
Don't load yourself up with papers to grade during the holidays!
I get it - you want to finish up all those units before the holidays and have projects and tests all due that last week. I'm telling you - don't do it! Don't do that! Find other ways to grade students that week that don't include pencil/paper! Have oral presentations that you can grade right on the spot, or short exit tickets that you can grade quickly and efficiently. Students don't want to be stressed over having to study this last week and trust me, you don't want to have that pile of papers to mark over the holidays (because as much as you say you'll have time, you won't...)
Do you have any other tips to add?