Those first days back from winter break can be tricky ones…students have been out of the school routine for two weeks, teachers have been out of the teaching routine for two weeks, and it is essential to get everyone back on track ASAP.
While still in the second quarter, I love that the return from winter break gives us a bit of a new beginning. I will rearrange my seating charts, dish out some fresh pencils, write some motivational notes to students to bring out their best, and prepare my plans so that I am at my best when my students arrive. It takes some time during break to get it all organized, but I am ALWAYS grateful I took that time because it makes life easier upon our return.
If you are looking for some ideas and instructional tools to get your 2016 jump started, here are my tried and true tricks & FREEBIES for jumping right back into the learning process, while embracing the excitement of the holidays and New Year!
Dare I share that writing is my favorite ELA component to dive into upon our return? I find that my students have so much they want to tell me and share with one another, that this is the BEST way I have found for them to get their ideas expressed. I LOVE to begin our first week back from break focusing on the essay writing process because it allows for my students to engage in thoughtful writing. To embrace our “FRESH START” mentality, we focus our writing on the three resolutions or ways we want to improve ourselves in 2016. We brainstorm, draft, edit, and publish these pieces and they become the perfect bulletin board display. Click on the image to grab this FREEBIE resource!
Here is what the essay writing process looks like in my 6th grade classroom…
It takes about 10 days from brainstorm to final, published piece, but it is well worth the time spent. My students have completed a writing piece from start to finish and are reflective on what they can work on for self-improvement in the new year during the whole process. WIN-WIN!
To get back into our reading routine, I LOVE to have high-interest selections on hand in order to ease my students back into our essential work. Seasonal close reads are perfect for reading strategy work with partners, small group work, or for independent practice. These close reads can be utilized for bell ringer or morning work, intervention, weekly reading homework, or as a literacy center resource for skill practice. Click the image to check them out.
Because two weeks is a L-O-N-G time, I have realized my students can lose a bit of the “work stamina” they have built up over the months before the holidays. As teachers, we have the choice of losing our minds and getting frustrated with them, or we can incorporate brain breaks and other high-interest tools to get the most out of our instructional time. Grab this final FREEBIE to engage your students in conversation about their holidays. They will LOVE the chance to listen and discuss, while remaining focused and engaged in the learning process.
I hope you had a wonderful 2015 and are ready to embrace all that 2016 has to offer you and your AMAZING students! Happy New Year!