December 21

Send Students Into The Holiday Break With Questions!

You’ve spent months building a learning community, pre-assessing, teaching, formative assessing, re-teaching, and wrapped the semester with a cumulative semester exam.  So, what did  your students leave your classroom with to bridge them through to the holidays?

When I was in the classroom, I always liked to send students out with two things:

  1. A gift for somebody else that was a piece of themselves
  2. Encouragement to continue learning by interacting with others

You know those writing genres that you studied this semester in your ELA classroom?  Why not ask students to use that as a springboard for a gift of writing to share with somebody else?  My students were encouraged to be creative and come up with a unique gift that only cost them some thinking time and a bit of writing.  Here are some examples of what my students crafted:

  • Recipe for a Great Mom, Dad, Sister, Grandma, Grandpa, etc.
  • I Am From poem describing family, home, gift, pet, etc.
  • Word Cloud of adjectives/adverbs which describe family, home, person, etc.
  • Lab Report for the creation of a favorite holiday treat (cooking from a science perspective instead of a recipe)
  • Personal narrative describing family gathering from pet’s, house’s, car’s, etc. perspective
  • How-To for the perfect gift, parent, grandparent, etc.
  • List poem such as Knoxville, Tennessee by Nikki Giovanni

I would model how I created a gift using one of the examples above and have it focused on my Granny, sister, parent, or grandchild.  Then, I just provided encouragement, a sounding board, and time for them to create.  Often, I would find that my students would get going and create a written testament for several family members!

Students were also encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and interact with folks with whom they might not normally converse.  I mentioned that we would be performing research and would also have an opportunity to perform personal interviews after the holiday break.  So, we would look at some examples and I also would share some Story Corps broadcasts as examples – I  usually would choose those which were both audio/video and had the script to read.  Story Corps provides a wonderful bank of questions from which students can draw to be the basis of their interview or to get some conversations going with a family member who isn’t so familiar to them.

So, instead of ending your time with your students embroiled in a test, why not send them off with a bit of creativity and some questions to learn more?