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Harness the Holiday Excitement

 | Dec 09, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-85449112_x300Ah, the holiday season: The lights, the music, the hot chocolate...the inability to get your class to sit still. Just this morning, I sent my own daughter off to school knowing that even her little firstborn, über-nerdy self was going to have a hard time listening with visions of imminent cookie baking, a trip to see the Rockettes, and the promise of putting up our tree this weekend dancing in her head. I almost feel as if I should send an apology e-mail to her teacher.

I've been there. I know what it is like to desperately try to stick to the classroom routine when my students seem to be floating in a haze of holiday glitter.

I have often likened teaching during the holiday season to keeping the lid on a boiling pot. I think the key to surviving—and thriving—as a teacher during this time of year is to first take a deep breath and then just accept that this is what is happening for the next few weeks and you might as well get on board. I mean, why fight it?

If your students are going to be all amped up, you might as well harness that energy and help them to channel that buzz into their reading lives.

Here are a few suggestions for survival that don't include massive amounts of caffeine or numerous glasses of your favorite adult beverage:

  •  Rapid read-alouds. Choose four or five juicy chapter book read-alouds. Carve out short sections of time across a day to read a chapter or two from each book and then let the kids choose their own adventure by voting on which book to continue reading. Be sure to have multiple copies of all the choices available for friends who catch the fever. Let them buzz about hot new read-alouds!
  • Three-minute book reviews. Have two or three students sign up at the end of the day to share a three-minute review of one of their favorite reads. Give students creative control over this presentation with a few guidelines regarding content.
  • Reading identity reflections. The impending holiday break serves as a big milestone for the school year—you made it! Allow students to reflect on how they've grown as readers. What authors, genres, themes, topics, or titles are they most interested in? Get creative with how students memorialize and share who they are as readers—get your collage on! Go digital! Let them go for it!
  • Faux online shopping. Let students create their own shopping cart to fill with titles of books they'd like to read in the near future. If you're feeling really crazy, let them browse new and upcoming titles online. Post your "carts" to share with all.

Routines are amazing and essential. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good routine and have been known to have heart palpitations over a hot process chart. The joy! However, if asking your class to stick to the daily routine during this season feels like an uphill battle, be open to switching things up in the coming weeks. Although now is not time to jump ship and start hardcore crafting all day, it may be time to loosen up. If they're going to be all abuzz, they might as well buzz about books, right?

Mrs. Mimi, aka Jennifer Scoggin, is a teacher who taught both first and second grades at a public elementary school in New York City. She's the author of Be Fabulous: The Reading Teacher's Guide to Reclaiming Your Happiness in the Classroom and It's Not All Flowers and Sausages: My Adventures in Second Grade, which sprung from her popular blog of the same name. Mimi also has her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

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