Those first days back from winter break can be tricky ones, but this year is particularly tricky with the uncertainty of COVID. Are we back to in-person? Will we be remote? I am preparing for all scenarios…while 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.
I love that the return from winter break gives us a bit of a new beginning. I will rearrange my seating charts, prepare to share some new book titles with my readers, 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 2022 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!
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.
Dare I share that writing is often 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 2021. 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!
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 evidience.
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 2021 and are ready to embrace all that 2022 has to offer you and your AMAZING students! Happy New Year!