The first days back after winter break can be tricky. Students are filled with energy and excited to see their friends, but their enthusiasm for reading and writing is rarely at that same high level. I’ve found that New Year’s writing activities work really well during this time. They provide a creative outlet for students to share their winter break experiences, and give us ELA teachers an engaging way to resume writing instruction.
In addition to writing about the new year, I also like refresh my classroom before the first day back. I will rearrange my seating charts, add new book titles with to my classroom library, write motivational notes to my students, and prepare my lesson plans so that I am at my best when my students arrive. It takes some time during break to get it all organized, but these small details set a positive tone for our return to learning.
If you are looking for writing activities and free printables to get your 2023 jump started, I have included a few of my favorites down below. These are great resources to get right back into the learning process, while embracing the excitement of the holidays and New Year!
Goal setting is at the top of my priority list upon returning to learning in January. With the new year, comes time to reflect and reinvigorate. While I feel it is essential to set my own personal goals, I also like to model this practice for my students in order to inspire their reflection and focus for the coming semester. Here is the freebie I use to guide my students through the goal-setting process–click the image to grab this PDF. Allow students to sketch, draw, or write their goals, and display when they are complete.
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 2023. We brainstorm, draft, edit, and publish these pieces and they become the perfect bulletin board display. Click on the image below to download this essay writing resource to use as a guide with your language arts students.
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!
Another idea is to work specifically on opinion writing. I use the opinion writing toolkit below to help my students organize and support their ideas with thoughtful reasoning and evidence. This resource works as both a printable PDF and with Google Classroom. If your students are anything like mine, some will require great support through the opinion writing process, while other student writers will hit the ground running. The long-term goal with both of these writing resources is to reinforce the PROCESS of forming thoughts and supporting them with evidence.
With winter break break often being two weeks or longer, 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 patience 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 holiday and are ready to embrace all that 2023 has to offer you and your AMAZING students! Happy New Year!