Enjoy Your Winter Break – You Deserve It!
Christmas break, winter break, whatever you want to call it….it.is.wonderful! Just when you are getting worn out from pouring yourself into your classroom, a glorious, several day break comes your way! But, so often we spend part (or most) of our free time during the break grading papers or planning for after the break. That’s not restful! Here is one strategy that I would like to share on how to manage not to bring any work home with you over the break AND be prepared for the first day after break! It’s great, doable, and really benefits your students, too!
Step One: Plan Strategically
Most of us like to give a test or end of unit assessment before the break because it makes a nice separation point to not require students to “keep” the information over break. So, a lot of teachers plan a test for the last day before break or have that day as the due date for a big project/paper/etc. But, now it’s break time and you have a stack of papers/tests/projects to grade! I would offer the suggestion to have your test or due date before the final day. Plan it far enough ahead, so that you will have time to get everything graded before the break begins. So, a paper due date may need to be earlier than a test date, for example.
Step Two: Effective Ending
I think one reason a lot of teachers have a big assignment or assessment on the last day before break is because it helps students stay focused in the days leading up to it. There’s nothing harder than trying to keep 26 teenagers under control when their heads are everywhere but in your classroom! So, if you have a test earlier (or a paper due), then what are you supposed to do with the rest of the time? The answer: REVIEW! I have always found that this is a great time to review. Review is great right now for a few reasons: 1) students should already know the material, so they don’t need to be totally focused and concentrating on learning new material, 2) review material is a great way to get cooperative learning centers going with pretty good results, and 3) I don’t know about your students, but mine can almost always benefit from review!
So, how to set up the review…..you can really do it anyway you want to, but here are two things I like to do:
One is to have a “book review” worksheet where students go back through their book and look over key concepts, vocabulary, and topics, then fill information into a review template. I teach math, so this works extremely well, but I would image it would work just as well with any subject textbook. You can pick up a free review template HERE.