AfterClass

Without proper planning, holiday break can slam the breaks on the learning momentum you’ve built with your students. Here’s how you can avoid the post-break classroom lull.

Dec 06, 2019

Without proper planning, holiday break can slam the breaks on the learning momentum you’ve built with your students. Here’s how you can avoid the post-break classroom lull. 

Keeping students engaged during break is critical, but you know what else is critical? Avoiding a mutiny. It’s important to be respectful of students’ time off, but you also need to look out for their educational well-being. These four options, when executed correctly, can help you strike the right balance between engagement and enragement.

  1.   Assign Homework

This is an easy and obvious way to keep students learning, but should be done very carefully. Simply assigning homework the same way you would on a Tuesday in October is sure to result in a majority of students not completing it. To maximize the likelihood that students will do the assignment, ask yourself these questions when developing the task:

    • Can each student personalize this assignment?
    • Will this take copious amounts of time, causing resentment?
    • Does this “feel” like homework?
  1.   Offer Bonus Opportunities

Propose high engagement “bonus” opportunities for students to complete over break. This is especially useful for keeping your high-achieving students sharp. Completion of these assignments may result in actual points, currency in your classroom rewards program, or a bonus developed specifically for this purpose. 

  1.   Let Them Choose Their Required Reading

Required reading that doesn’t allow for choice “feels” like homework. Don’t tell students what to read, simply assign them the task of reading. Set page goals for individual students and provide them with a simple tracker to log the pages they read and a one-sentence synopsis, connection, or exclamation each time they read. For students who aren’t motivated to find their own material, you may want to offer several high-engagement options — articles covering pop culture topics, profiles of athletes or musicians, age-appropriate true crime stories, etc. 

  1.   Have Them Reflect and Set

Centering students’ holiday break assignment on them creates buy-in automatically. Ask students to answer a series of questions about their highs, lows, frustrations, and successes during the first five months of the school year. Also provide a template for goal-setting to be completed after the reflection questions. This preps students for a quick and effective reset lesson on the first day back before charging into the second half of the school year.

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