Teachers throughout the United States are about to enjoy a long, well deserved Thanksgiving weekend. They’ll relax with family and friends. They may start decorating and shopping. It’s blissful. Then there’s the return to school on Monday.
With students in full-on festive holiday excitement mode, it can be quite a challenge to keep them engaged in learning throughout the remaining weeks of the year, but you don’t have to compete with the holiday season. Instead, use it to your advantage. With a little creativity and planning, you can incorporate the holidays into rigorous teaching with activities and assignments that keep students motivated as they move up the taxonomy to cognitively complex learning—and the lessons will be even more memorable to them.
Students celebrate a variety of holidays, of course, but here’s an activity, loosely based on the 12 days of Christmas, which can add some festive fun to the review at the end of a unit. Just have each student make a list—and illustrate it if inclined.
The Twelve Considerations of (Fill in the Unit Name)
1 thing in this unit that inspired you
2 changes you’ve made to revise your knowledge
3 learning goals for the unit (and where you are on the scale)
4 things that changed your thinking
5 key points that you consider most important
6 things in the unit that you believe impact life today
7 sentences to elaborate on your answer to number 6
8 skills that helped you (or your group) work effectively
9 words about how the information will be useful in the future
10 vocabulary words you would use to teach this information
11 words to define one of the vocabulary terms above
12 details you remember from the information in the unit
This is just a list of suggestions. Modify the activity to best suit the needs of students. your instructional strategies to fit your curriculum. It will help solidify key information in students’ minds and incorporate the level of rigor they need to go far beyond simple recall.
By the way, as you deal with the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season, both in and out of school, we want you to know that we are grateful for everything you do to deepen students’ learning and enrich their lives. Thank you for being there for them.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a truly enjoyable holiday season!