Mid Year slump
Check this scenario…It’s March and you’re lesson planning for next week. Suddenly, you look at what you’ve written! It’s the same as what you have written for this week…Intro, teach lesson, practice worksheet, assign homework, moving on! Where did the beginning of the school year eagerness and fun activities go? I know, I know….those activities got lost in the day to day paperwork, school meetings, pacing guides, benchmark testing…and on and on! I know because I’ve been there many, many times! You’re draggin’ and so are your lessons!
What to do?
I decided to look back at my beginning of the year lesson and WALAA! It was right there in front of me…activities that I used before the day to day of school dragged me down! I want to share some ideas with you and I hope you’ll do the same for me, as I am always lookin’ to add to my own bag of “tricks”!
here we go!!!
#1 Dictionary Dash!!! I teach reading using novels and one of my favorite is Blood on the River. It’s a historical fiction novel about the founding of Jamestown. The vocabulary in the novel can be a challenge, but the idea of making students sitting at their desks, looking up definitions of unknown words and writing them in their journal gave me chills!!
Dictionary Dash to the rescue…My students, the year I created it, were VERY competitive and this was right up their alley. I let my kids partner with a friend and gave each pair a dictionary. On my white board I created a chart: Word Part of Speech Definition
I wrote the vocabulary word in the “Word” column and then I said, “Go!” The first group that located the word got the privilege of writing the part of speech and definition on the board. When all the words were defined and written on the board, the students then copied down the vocabulary words into their journals. My students BEG to play this game once I have them play it.
While I have used it for reading, I have also used this game in Science and Social Studies. Let your imagination be your guide!!
#2 Task Cards!!!!
Love, love, love task cards! The cards lend themselves to SOOOO many uses and really energize my students. I print them out on card stock, laminate, and they are ready!!
A. Pass A Problem I put one or two cards on each student’s desk. I have my students record the number on the task card on their answer sheet and then solve the problems. They record their answers and put their hands on their shoulders. This lets me know and once students have recorded their answers, they move to the next desk and start the process of recording and solving the task card problem. The students move clockwise around the room solving problems at each desk. When the students arrive back at their desk, the game is over and now the class checks their answers.
B. Station/center lesson They can be differentiated to meet the needs of all your students very easily. Print the cards on different colored paper and WALAA! Stations/center planning done! Here are a couple of examples I use with my class. Click on them to check out some of my task cards or the Upper Elementary Measurement Activities task cards located in my TpT store.
2c. Small guided group lessons Task cards fit really well into small group lessons. They allowed me to really differentiate my tasks without spending a lot of time looking for the exact activity. Task cards made it a snap! to meet the needs of all the levels of my students and reinforce what had been taught or reviewed in the whole group lesson.
3. Whiteboard Jeopardy!!! My first year at a new school left me without a SMARTboard so I created a paper and pencil version of Jeopardy. I created a grid with letter columns across the whiteboard and numbers down the whiteboard. Within each box of the grid, I placed an index card with such messages as “100 pts.” or “Lose 25 pts.” and placed them face down on the white board with magnets. The students were placed on two teams and each team was given a question to answer. If correct, the students then chose a card using the grid addresses. The message was read and points added or subtracted. Teams also could win extra turns. The game is only limited by the creator’s imagination. I like to use this one for review.
I hope some of my ideas have generated some more ideas for you! Please share what you do to overcome the mid year slump that seems to grab us every year!!!