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Along with the holidays come a new challenge for educators; fighting off the end of the year lazies. Around Thanksgiving time until students leave for the winter break, it can be a real headache trying to get them to focus. Actually, it's more like pulling teeth! Students are envisioning food, family, and time away from teachers and are starting to care less about cells and geometry. The weather cools and unfortunately so does the participation and attention to classroom instruction.
I live in Florida and fortunately we are blessed with beautiful warm weather; well at least until late October, early November and even then, weather still not as bad as other cold winter wonderlands. Somehow, we always find a way to get into the holiday spirit and sometimes a bit prematurely.
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Survival Tips for the Holidays
So how do we keep the kids focused?
First, remind your students that there is an end of the year and with the end comes a goal. For my students, the end is exam week. We must remind them that there is business to handle and finish so they can be successful on their evaluations... final exams. We want them to be proud of all the work that they've done since August.
Secondly, plan some fun activities that incorporate a new game or hands on experience into the curriculum. For example, instead of making the students learn new vocabulary words or a new concept by copying definitions and reading, have them work in groups to make a skit or poem about the word or subject; you would be amazed at how much unseen talent is in your classroom!
Finally, add incentives to the mix. Offer students some extra credit opportunities or candy/food incentives for doing great work. This can also serve as a last minute ray of hope for those students with lower than normal grades. If they have some kind of hope they make work a little harder to try to pass your class.
Work hard, relax harder! The more planning and preparation you do with the ending in mind, the easier your days will flow. The holiday season is what you make it.