Spring Fever?

It’s that time of the year…. the weather’s getting warmer, the flowers are starting to bloom, (and of course there’s the pollen here in the south), spring sports are starting, and Spring Break is about to happen!

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Are the kids focused on being in class, or are they thinking about when recess or lunch is so that they can hang out with their friends??

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Let’s face it…. even as adults… most of us get a little distracted this time of year too!  I know that I’m looking forward to Spring Break next week for a little bit of “me time” to recharge and lots of “family time” to reconnect!!!

So… how do we keep our students (and ourselves) focused for the next few days and then for the next 34 (but who’s counting?!) days when we return?   🙂

Here are some ideas for you!!!

The following ideas are taken directly from the We Are Teachers website.

1. Keep activities brief and engaging.

Now is not the time to dive into a brand-new 500-page novel or nonfiction book. Instead, try focusing on shorter activities that pack in a lot of movement and hands-on exploration.

  • Create games to teach content and free choice during math and reading centers.

  • Try lots of Brain Breaks!

  • Make memory books. There are a ton of examples on Pinterest..

  • Go outside!

2. Make a time capsule.download (1)

  • For preK and kindergarten, get a manila folder and have the kids decorate them to put all their work in it to create a portfolio. Create time capsules with favorite things they learned, memories and friends so they can save and remember their lives during this year.

3. Emphasize free choice.

  • Capitalize on student enthusiasm by letting them focus on topics of their choosing.

  • Let them pick a topic to research and present the ideas as a booklet and speech.

  • Students can select their own books and develop reading groups.

4. Pick an end-of-year theme.

  • Make the routines more fun with a focused theme.

  • Start a classroom theme just for fun.

    • For example: for younger grades. use a pirate theme…change decorations in your room to pirate things, read pirate books, do pirate alphabet review, make pirate projects and a keepsake box.

5. Know when to let go.

Even with all of these great ideas, don’t feel too badly if it’s still hard to capture the kids’ attention. While you always want to have a plan and do your best, you know what they say about best-laid plans.

Here are some ideas from the National Education Association website:

1. Give them Fresh Air

  • allow time outside…. this goes for any age or grade.  Fresh air (minus the pollen) recharges our senses and rejuvenates us.

2. Expand Your Classroom

  • Take the lesson outside or to a new location.

    • Example:  Teaching  high school World History? This might be the perfect time for an impromptu battle simulation that behind the school. download (2)

    • Example: Elementary school science? The spring weather brings so much excitement of things to come!  Keep kids engaged by using the outdoors in your curriculum. For example, are the students excited to catch ladybugs (and want to bring them in from recess? Use ladybugs in a science study on plants or relate it to literature selections. The students might do real “field work” by keeping records of their observations in their journals, and writing stories about ladybugs. Other hot topics might include swimming and the beach, gardening, and kite flying.

3. End the Year with a Fun Project

  • Whether in elementary or middle or high school, having a big project that involves activity and a creative presentation works well.

    • Examples:

      • Interview an adult of a particular age, a particular profession, etc.. They can expand their skills on how to write open questions, how to interview anddownload (4) take notes, and how to ask for clarification if needed. The prep work (including practice interviewing classmates and reporting what they learned) can all be done during class time, while the interviews can be conducted outside of class. The presentation visuals (maybe computer slideshows) can be prepared during class time, and the presentations themselves can be given during class.

      • Create a video as a class project that is response to a school wide theme.

4. Give them Choices

download (3)Keep students engaged by capitalizing on their interests. Your students may love to do something artistic or with technology, but you may not have enough time in your teaching of reading and writing to let them express their creativity. So at the end of the year, offer choices. Let them pick the subject (a particular book, novel, or topic) and offer a choice of activities.

5. A Time to Have Fun, A Time to Reflect

The last few weeks before vacation are a special time of year because standardized testing is complete and the end of the year is near. Having those state assessments out of the way might give you time to do fun activities that you’ve had to put aside during the weeks of test prep.

  • Example: Choose a book that students will find interesting, and do a class project. For example, Crispin: The Cross of Lead is set in medieval times. Have them read the book and build a huge medieval fortress out of Legos.

  • This could also be the time for reflection. Have students complete a survey that asks them how they felt about each unit or activity. Their feedback may help you plan for next year.

  • Example:  Close the year by talking to each student, one by one, download (5)individually or in front of the entire class (whatever you feel comfortable with). Tell them about your first memory of them from the beginning of the year. Tell them their strengths, what you’d like them to work on, and what you think they’ll grow up to be. This is likely an activity that you and the students will remember forever.

6. Preview Next Year

After the state testing is over, start previewing the curriculum for the upcoming grade. Your students may get  a kick out of taking a next grade level test and realizing that they already know a lot of the material.

7. Keep Teaching Until the Very End

Never have a countdown to the last day. As soon as you do that the kids will be done! 

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I hope that you’ve found something useful in today’s post!  🙂 Happy Spring!!!!

Cindy

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